As we make plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends next week, there's no greater time to begin working on making a list of the things we're thankful for in our lives. Whether it's family, friends, or the many blessings we recognize in our lives, taking the time to be grateful for the good things in life is key. This simple act can help improve our overall mental health. It can also help us sleep better and longer, improve self-esteem and mental resilience, increase empathy, and decrease aggression. This mindset is a nuance of positive psychology, and the belief that positive thinking will result in a positive mood while attracting positive situations in life. In fact, it's said that the greatest of leaders operate from such a mindset.
The practice of positive thinking paired with a variety of therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help fight symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, etc. And since it can sometimes be difficult to form a habit of positive thinking and having a mindset of gratitude daily, we're going to share with you some ideas and exercises to help you celebrate and give thanks for the wonderful blessings in your lives each and every day until this mindset becomes second nature. Some of these exercises will be great to use while gathering with friends and family over Thanksgiving as well.
Develop a Gratitude Ritual
Starting a daily gratitude ritual you can do in private at home is a great way to get into the habit of having a positive mindset full of thanks. It's best to have a set time when you do this every day, and there may be certain times of the day you prefer more, like first thing in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. When engaging in this ritual, it may help to sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and give yourself a prompt such as “Today I am thankful for...” This may take a moment depending on your day, but it's best to stay with this practice in good and bad times and especially on the days that you don't feel like doing it. Think about a person or an animal you appreciate, a situation, an unexpected blessing or act of kindness, your life, your ability to breathe and feel the sun and the air, whatever it is that you can find to be thankful for, truly allow yourself to feel the gratitude of this and soak it in during this moment.
Collect Gratitude Stones
Gratitude stones are wonderful reminders for us to think of one thing we're thankful for. You may choose to collect several stones each representing a different blessing in your life, or you may carry one stone around with you, or even set it on your desk, etc. to remind you to think of one thing you're thankful for each time you look at it, or at least once per day. Some people will decorate each stone to represent a different blessing.
Take a Gratitude Walk
Not only is this a great way to practice gratitude, but it's also a fabulous exercise in mindfulness. Go on a walk outside somewhere you enjoy. This could be around your neighborhood, through a local park, around town, to the beach, in the forest, or a hike. Whatever you choose, soak in everything you see, feel, hear, smell and touch as you journey through your surroundings. Observe everything you come into contact with, and make a note of the positive things you observed that you're thankful for. When you're finished with your walk you may want to write about what you experienced, or express this appreciation through art.
Start a Gratitude Jar
There's no better way to count your blessings than by writing them down and saving them all up in a gratitude jar. Watch your gratitude grow as you begin collecting the things you feel thankful for each and every day. When you're feeling a bit down on luck or in life, take out your gratitude jar and go through your blessings to remind yourself that no matter what life throws at you, there is still much to be grateful for.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Writing down the things you're thankful for at least once a week is a great way to start training your brain to think about the good in life and all there is to feel positive about. You may want to start this by giving yourself some prompts such as “I am thankful for three things I see, smell, touch, hear, or that are the color green, etc.” You can also use a gratitude worksheet to help you as you journal.
Create Gratitude Worksheets
Gratitude worksheets contain a list of prompts that allow you to start thinking about everything you enjoy in life from the big things down to life's simple pleasures that we sometimes become too busy to take the time to truly appreciate. Prompts will help you to think about not only the things you are grateful for, but why you're grateful for them. You can get as creative with these as you want.
Make Some Gratitude Oriented Arts and Crafts
There are a variety of arts and crafts surrounding gratitude that are great for young-hearted adults and children alike to enjoy. You may want to create a gratitude tree made of paper leaves with something you appreciate written on each leaf, or a gratitude flower of the same concept, or even a gratitude collage or wall display with pictures or words representing all of the things you're thankful for.
Download a Gratitude App
There's an app for that? There most certainly is. In fact, there are several gratitude-oriented apps out there that are designed for helping you engage in positive psychology and focus on all that you appreciate in your life. I advise doing some research on these before you download them, if apps are your thing, and use the options that resonate most with you and your lifestyle.
Whatever method or methods you choose to engage in to start cultivating a mindset of gratitude, it's important to remember that consistency is key. It takes 21 times of doing something in order for it to become a habit, so write it down on your calendar to remind yourself for the first three weeks until it becomes second nature. If you're having a difficult time finding motivation or the ability to focus on such tasks, you may want to help boost your mental health while you cultivate this mindset. I recommend using a micronutrient supplement. As an integrative therapist with a passion for holistic health, I've found this natural supplement to be a refreshing alternative treatment to taking antidepressants and other psychotropic medications. Go ahead and give it a try, and if you aren't happy with the results you can always get your money back. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you'll take some time to reflect on all that's good in your life because there's definitely much to be thankful for in this life whether we're able to recognize it all the time or not.