“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Negative thinking is a mental trap that is easy to fall into. When everything in your life seems to be going wrong or falling apart, it is only natural to focus on the negative. Practicing gratitude can change your whole outlook on life. Although of course we should practice gratitude all the time, Thanksgiving is a great reminder to start again.
If you are having trouble getting started, one approach is to think of someone far less fortunate than yourself. That person may even be you, two or three or ten years ago. List all the things you have that that other person does not – perhaps a home, a job, a supportive family member or friend, a phone, a bed, food on the table, clean water, heat…
One thing for which I am incredibly grateful is leisure time, a privilege that many Americans lack. Single parents or people working multiple jobs to make ends meet don’t have time to sit around in their bathrobes all morning eating bon bons and writing a blog post. (I’m not actually eating bon bons, but maybe I should be…). If you’re reading this post right now, that means you have at least a few minutes of leisure time, and access to the internet, a bottomless wealth of knowledge, resources and vapid entertainment.
And of course your gratitude doesn’t have to be just for basic needs, it can be for anything and everything. You can be grateful for a eucalyptus scented candle, an upcoming vacation, a new technological gadget, a good book, a great coffee blend, a pair of fuzzy socks, a sunny day, a snowy evening, a starry sky, a funny tweet, a good yoga instructor, your favorite football team winning, having a good cook in the family, a moment of peace and quiet, a good night’s sleep, a hot shower, a day that is a little less terrible than most other days, a fantastic podcast, a favorite song coming on the radio, a comfy couch, a new lip balm, a paycheck, a momentary burst of confidence, the end of a long day, a sense of accomplishment after finishing the dishes… the list can go on and on and on. For an extra challenge, you can even try being grateful for the struggles and challenges in your life, knowing that they have brought you to where you are today.
What’s going on your gratitude list this Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments or through e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish you a mindful holiday season.