7 Ways to Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Daily Routine
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus
We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s the little things in life that matter most..”, and when it comes to gratitude, that adage could not be more accurate. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of gratitude can be defined as, ‘a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something’. Can you imagine a world where everyone showed gratitude? Where people would actually say thank you to you for holding the door for them and if you took the time to console somebody on one of their rougher days, they would extend the same kindness to you on one of yours. People would still get angry and upset but at the end of the day, they would show their appreciation for even being able to breathe through it. As humans, our attention is constantly being pulled in 20 different directions at once, and even more so with the virus and the election taking the forefront of almost every digital platform. We get distracted and lost and just sometimes completely overwhelmed with all of the chaos going on in our lives that we forget to take a second and Just. Sit. Sit with ourselves and fully acknowledge all that we have directly in front of us.
Instead of scrolling through Instagram and instantly developing this seed of jealousy towards the skinny, blonde stranger who spends her time at the beach, take a second and appreciate the fact that you even have a phone to do so. Take it a step further and put your phone down and appreciate the hands that are able to hold it. Show gratitude for the roof that’s over your head and the clothes that are on your body because not everyone is as fortunate. There are two ways to roll through this life and one is by constantly comparing yourself and your surroundings to how others live is not the way to do it. Instead of wishing for more money, a larger house, a slimmer waist, or longer hair, take a breather and really acknowledge all that you do have. The chances are that you are not the wealthiest, most beautiful person in the world reading this blog so yes, things could technically “be better” but what most people don’t realize is that they can always be worse. Each and every single one of us have so much to be grateful for and yeah, sure more money would be nice but guess what? You’ve got your bills paid so you still have a place to sleep at night and food to get you through the next day. Want a larger house? Who doesn’t?! But at the end of the day, I’ll take my tiny one bedroom apartment over a cold park bench or a dirt floor any day of the year. A slimmer waist would be nice but the most amazing thing is whether you know it or not, someone is looking at YOU and saying the same thing about you. They wish they had what you had. Regardless of where you are in your journey through life, DO. NOT. STOP. because people are watching and applauding you from a distance. Appreciate that and be humble. Have you been trying to grow your hair so you can live out your long life dream of being a mermaid? Sis, at least you have hair! According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. alone by the end of 2020 which means that roughly 1.8 million people will lose their hair to chemotherapy this year.
Gratitude can have such a huge impact on your day and it is such a simple notion to practice– it’s as easy as saying thank you. Literally, it’s such a sweet, small gesture, but it can have a huge impact on your daily life. The purpose of this blog is to help you find little, manageable ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine, which in turn will help you lead a more purposeful and appreciated lifestyle– not to mention you’ll make the people around you much happier, as well. It all starts with one single moment. One single moment where you go out of your way to show your appreciation for someone or something and just like that, you will have started a ripple effect. Saying thank you isn’t hard at all but the words can lose meaning if they’re not accompanied by action and emotion. You need to say them with sincerity, or show your gratitude through little measures like a hug or a smile. Now, just imagine if everyone went into their day with this type of mindset? My how much different our society and priorities would be!
I know, I know … I’m an idealist, and such a world will never exist but that’s okay– I can accept the world as it is and still show my gratitude for all of the wonderful things that we have. And in doing so, my little acts of gratitude will radiate throughout the universe, changing it in subtle but profound ways. For those of you who’d like to do little things to show your gratitude, to a specific person or to life in general, here are a few ideas that have worked for me:
1. Create a Gratitude Ritual. On many mornings I do a little ritual: before getting out of bed, I close my eyes, and take a couple of minutes to just lay there think of the people and things I’m grateful for. That includes those who I’ve crossed paths at CI , as well as all of you followers. Not to mention, my family and friends (human and other) and those who I interact with on a professional level. Each and every single one of you play a role in not only my life but everyone who you come into contact with. In some way, shape, or form, you leave your mark on each and every person and that is such a beautiful thing. Just make sure you leave the right mark. Be grateful for those who surround you– good and bad.
2. Give thanks for today! You don’t even have to thank a person … you can thank life itself! Wake up, and greet the day with gratitude. Be thankful you’re alive and that you still have the air in your lungs and energy to be able to live through the next day. For a little extra guidance and motivation, read one of my favorite gratitude prayers by the Dalai Lama, who tells us: “Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.’ ” Now reread that.
3. Do someone a free favor. Without expecting anything in return, do something nice for someone. Just something small. Get them a drink or a coffee, do a chore for them, offer to do an errand, anything they’d appreciate, really. Think of what the person likes, wants or needs, and try to do something (regardless of how tiny) to help them. Actions speak louder than words, and doing something nice will show you’re grateful more than just saying it.
4. Give a little gift. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, but a little gift can be a tremendous gesture. Whether it be something they want or need or even just a random act of kindness, the meaning behind it will stand tall. Here are 30 ideas for a little inspiration.
5. Acknowledge them publicly. Who doesn’t love public praise?! Find a way to acknowledge the contributions of someone, to show your gratitude, in a public way … in your office, among friends and family, on your social media page, or if you want to get real creative, take out an ad in your local newspaper.
6. Surprise them with kindness. Actually, this is mostly the same as Item #3, but with a twist: surprise the person. That little extra step of surprising them can make a big difference. When your husband or wife comes home from work, have a lovely dinner prepared. When your mom walks out her front door in the morning, have her car nice and clean. When your kiddo opens their lunch pail, have a little note and a treat waiting for them. You get the idea.
7. Say thanks even for negative things in your life. This is the hard part, in truth. When things go wrong, when we’re not happy, when people are mean to us, when we are worn down by the million slings and arrows of everyday life … we don’t want to say thank you. We want to bow our heads and curl up in a ball at times, but in truth, this is the time when it matters most. If you’ve mastered the first 6 items on this list, you’re ready to master this one. When life gets you down, when you’re hurt or angry or confused or frustrated, take a moment to stop and close your eyes and find things to be thankful for. Your health, your family, your job, the roof over your head, the fact that you’ll have a next meal, the beauty of the world around you, the good people in your life, your new queen sized bed. Whatever you can think of, be thankful for them and express that gratitude somehow. Realize that all is not bad in this world, and be happy for that.
And then, when you’ve mastered that skill, think of the negative things in your life … and give thanks for them. Yes, you read that right. Be thankful for all of the mess and chaos going on in your world because guess what? Without it, you would not be the strong, unstoppable person that you are today. That person who cut you off on your way to work? Thank them for teaching you patience and understanding. Your dog that tore through the trash? Thank him for teaching you humility as you pick up the scraps. The global pandemic you’re going through? Thank it for reminding you of what is important in life and to cherish the little things. The accident that your mom was in? Thank it for making you and her stronger. I know it may be hard to see at times but there is beauty in every single aspect of our lives but we can only see it if we open our eyes and our hearts to appreciate it.
Be grateful. Be appreciative. Be humble. Be kind.