As we move from Thanksgiving into the Christmas season, it’s easy to lose our focus on gratitude. The practice of being thankful that we held so tightly during Thanksgiving often gives way to the stresses of Christmas and the new year. We tend to move through life without taking the time to stop and be mindful of where we are placing our attention and energy. We need to focus on showing appreciation towards others and within ourselves by observing the good in the world. When we give our energy to gratitude verses things of worry or that we want, we are able to see the greatness in what we already have. When the season of thankfulness extends beyond Thanksgiving, so does our positive energy and attitude.
Everyone has something to be thankful for. Instead of focusing negative energy on comparing our life to someone else’s, we can be grateful for what have versus what we do not have. It’s so easy to get caught up in superficial things. We are constantly wishing we had more materialistic things and convincing ourselves that someone else’s life is so much better than ours.
We need to focus our energy on gratitude for the things we do have- health, happiness, family, friends, an old (yet reliable) car, a pretty sunset, a nice cup of coffee…it can be anything! The shift of perspective from concentrating on what is lacking to showing gratitude for what we have lifts the burdens we have created for ourselves and allows us to enter a renewed state of mind.
While pioneering through this world of constant movement, we may not realize that the onslaught of negativity occurs not only from our environment, but also from ourselves. A constant focus on the things that challenge us (obstacles, or negativity in general) is survival-mode, just doing enough to solve each issue and get through the day. A gratitude-based focus towards others and ourselves is another key to moving past surviving into successfully thriving.
Gratitude makes a world of difference in our overall perspective. When we give our energy to gratitude, it grows our perspective in that direction. Giving energy to the good things takes up the space in our heads and our hearts so that we have less energy to give towards the challenges in our lives. It may be hard to show gratitude at first, but like with all things- it gets better with practice.
How to: Practice
Three easy ways to practice gratitude:
- Make time to be grateful on the inside. At some point every day, take a few minutes to give thanks for the things/people/etc. that you are grateful for. It only takes a few minutes to list 3-5 things that you are grateful for daily. You can take it a step further by starting a gratitude journal and writing out the things you are thankful for.
- Make time to be grateful on the outside. A simple “thank you” or maybe even a phone call to someone showing appreciation will not only help you, but it will also perpetuate gratitude through others. A little effort goes a long way and will make a huge difference in your relationships.
- Be thankful for the challenging things. When we try to find benefit/opportunities for growth in even the hardest parts of our lives, we are able to see that there is good everywhere if we just look hard enough. We have the opportunity to turn obstacles into challenges in which we can build our strengths and do things that we never thought we could! Showing gratitude for these opportunities and embracing them improves our perspective while we grow.
It’s so easy to be negative towards ourselves, but when we practice gratitude we learn that the positive exponentially outweighs the challenges that come our way.