I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It’s only been a few days but I already see people gearing up for the next set of holidays of the season, with Christmas tree farms sprouting up from empty fields and festive lights strung up on the neighbors’ houses.
Before Thanksgiving becomes a distant memory, though, I wanted to talk a little bit about the practice of gratitude. Even if your Thanksgiving was more filled with family drama and travel plans gone awry than with gratitude, no time to start feeling thankful than the present!
Why practice gratitude?
Gratitude is not about forcing yourself to feel good even when life sucks. The reason to practice gratitude is that there is often positivity and and joy around us that we fail to notice. Instead of dwelling on small annoyances (or big catastrophes), we can strengthen our resilience to the natural ups and downs of life by practicing noticing the good things.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate a regular gratitude practice into your daily routine:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every night, write a list of 10 things you’re thankful for. Or, every morning, write down one thing you’re thankful for, trying not to repeat anything you’ve written before.
2. Say grace. Before meals, say 3 things you’re grateful for.
3. Share an evening gratitude ritual. If you have a partner, spouse, or child, create a ritual where you share back and forth what you’re thankful for before bed.
4. Get a “gratitude buddy.” When something nice happens during your day (no matter how small – think “driver let me change lanes in traffic” or “found $5 in jeans pocket”) send an email or text to your buddy. As an added bonus, you’ll get to experience the joy of hearing all about your friend’s good fortune, too.
5. Practice being thankful for things you take for granted. Write a list of 5 things you take for granted (maybe your health, your spouse, your house, your income, etc.). Imagine that all of these things are taken away from you. Then, imagine getting each of them back, one by one, and how thankful you’d be.
6. Share your thanks with the people you appreciate. Choose a few people who have positively impacted your life (maybe your parents, or teachers, or mentors) and send them hand-written thank-you cards.
7. Go for a gratitude walk. Take a stroll and take note of all the positive things you come across, like the crisp air, the smell of flowers, your comfortable shoes, etc.
8. Turn your morning cup of coffee or tea into an opportunity to practice gratitude. Instead of sipping away while reading the paper or thinking about other things, pay attention to the experience mindfully. Focus on the smell, taste, and texture, and notice the small aspects of drinking your coffee or tea that you appreciate.
Right now, I’m sitting in front of my computer this fine Tuesday morning, sipping a delicious cup of coffee, looking forward to getting my day started. I’m grateful that I get to do work I absolutely love and that years of hard work are starting to pay off (see my Medical School Ukulele Song to get a glimpse of the difficulty, and hilarity, of what it took to get here).
I’m grateful for my amazing boyfriend Peter, who has random (but extremely awesome) hobbies like blacksmithing and woodworking and truffle farming and will definitely be the one in charge of building our house when we someday move out of LA and get to the woods.
I’m grateful for my health, my family, and my friends.
And I’m very grateful that you’re here with me right now, taking the time to read something I wrote, and sharing the belief that happiness, joy, and fulfillment are worth striving for.
Photo by Zephyrance Lou
My name is Eric.
Thanks so much for touching on the subject of Gratitude in your recent blog post. I have a saying I try to remember when it comes to gratitude (before I start my day, I try to remember to start with and “Attitude of Gratitude”), as you mentioned in one of your practices, before bed or before your feet touch the ground.
I am happy for your past present and future successes as you have found your calling!! Yippeee…
I am about to embark on, what I hope to create as a new career path here in Las Vegas, job searching and will be interviewing for a Front Office Manager position at a Mental Health Clinic in Las Vegas, called Healthy Minds, LLC https://www.healthymindslv.com
Before my interview, I researched the company, the healthcare profession of mental health and came across your Blog on APA/Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives. So, now I’m a dedicated blog fan and will follow your education, advise and wisdom and encourage you to continue working towards your goal of 2014 June Metal Health practice, it’s not IF, it’s When you decide to create that reality day by day…
I see you as well as I are interested in Alternative Health practices when it involves imbalances in the body or mind and nutrition, eastern medicine as apposed to prescription drugs! I am a self taught nutritionist and have found my calling too, one day have my own practice!! So in the mean time, I thought I might as well try to find a job that would reflect my personal philosophy of “Be of Service” in whatever capacity that may be, so wish we luck?
P.s. I don’t have a song to express my optimism but I do have a mantra I use frequently… ” If I Think I Can or Think I Can’t, I Am Right!!!
Bet you didn’t think a comment would be so long from a first time follower, but hope you enjoyed it as much as I did discovering you, your philosophy and your Blog…
Hi Eric, thanks so much for connecting and for your kind comment! I get more excited day by day as it gets closer to when I get to branch out and start my own practice. Keep my updated on how your career journey goes!
Dr. J says
When I look at my life and all the blessings that I have received, gratitude is the only explanation I can find.
I love that positive attitude 🙂
Update on my new career path as a Front Desk Manager at https://www.HealthyMindsLV.com
I’m blessed and humbled that I got the job, start on Monday, 16th at one of their new office locations of 4. They are growing the business of Healthy Minds in Greater Las Vegas, and I plan to assist them as an advocate in their mission of healing and the recovery of mental illness or as I like to say “mental imbalances”.
I’m very interested to see if any of their psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrist, pshchologist, therapist or counselors have the wherewithall to include “Naturalpathic” or “Eastern Medicine” in any way, shape or form! Otherwise, pack your bags and come to the dessert….I’ll keep you posted :))
Sorry, correction, I ment to say “neuropsychologist” not neuropsychiatrist…hehe!
You heard it here first,
“Opportunity + Prepardness = Success”
I couldn’t have read this at a better time. Thank you for sharing your insight. I am going to try practicing at least one if not integrating most of your suggestions into my daily life and my family’s. I just came across your blog today from a post an old friend shared, Nicole Krankl. I read your most recent post about the discovery of your cancer. You are incredibly generous to be sharing such personal and insightful stuff. I’ve subscribed and can’t wait to hear about what else you share. I’m having trouble finding focus on what really matters in life. I find comfort in eastern philosophy and as a registered nurse working with western medicine your blog is a new balance. It can be done… Thank you.
I am terrified before chemo….learned to practice being grateful to all, past and resent, patients, researchers, medical folks, cleaning people, who make it possible. Wow..how that changed my approach. Now I need to do that before CT scans.