Editor’s Note: We’re sharing this post, originally published in November 2019, to nudge us all toward seeking out a few more moments of gratitude each day.
‘Tis the season to be grateful.
The pie, the people, the prospect of an early bedtime since the sun sets at 4:00 p.m. It’s easy to feel the warm fuzzies of gratitude around the holidays. But what about the 300-some other days of the year? Let’s keep these good gratitude vibes going throughout all the seasons with these ten ultra-easy ways to up the appreciation each day.
How to practice gratitude in your everyday life:
1. Keep a—you guessed it—gratitude journal.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Oprah’s a fan, and that’s enough to make this #1. A journal in which you scribble down things you’re grateful for trains your thoughts from focusing on what you don’t have to what you do. Keep paving this neuropathic road and eventually, the hope is at least, that your mindset will naturally direct down the grateful one, not the woe is me one.
The trick to keeping a gratitude journal is grooming your surroundings to keep it as a habit. Pick a journal you won’t hate looking at day after day, find a home for it on your bedside table, and dedicate a time of day you always write it in. Keep it brief. Even a couple of bullet points are enough to fall back on once the day inevitably tries to kick you down. To keep from running out of ideas, get specific:
+ Things that make your life easier
+ What you love about your neighborhood
+ People who are your cheerleaders in life
+ What you appreciate about the current season
+ Family traditions you’re thankful for
2. Keep mantras close.
Utilize your desktop background, phone background, and desk space to constantly remind yourself of positive thoughts. Whatever happened to Post-Its on bathroom mirrors? The more you see it, the more you believe it.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” ― Dolly Parton
3. Spend money where it matters.
Every penny you spend has power. Paying your Comcast bill probably won’t fulfill anyone’s lifelong dreams, but buying preserves from a farmers’ market might. You could order a box of screws on Amazon, but how about supporting your local hardware store instead? Buying from small businesses = connecting with your community = making someone’s day. Which, in turn, will up your thanks for having such wonderful, caring, knowledgeable business owners in your neighborhood for when you inevitably screw something up in your bathroom renovation and you realize Amazon.com doesn’t give a youknowwhat.
4. Use your manners, even when you seemingly don’t have to.
Wave to that person who let you merge when you admittedly shouldn’t have merged because the zipper merge is wildly underused in certain Minnesotan parts of the world. If your server asks how you are, don’t immediately demand to know what the soup of the day is. Hold the door for the crabby old man. It’s the little things. You never know what someone’s going through and you never know what a little gesture could mean to them.
5. Venmo a friend $5.
“Coffee’s on me today. Love you.”
6. Pause before meals.
Prayer not your thing? That’s cool. How about a simple second to acknowledge that a farmer grew this tomato and then a driver hauled it to the co-op and a worker stocked the shelves and your partner grocery shopped on Tuesday when your meeting ran late and now you’re about to stuff that tomato in your mouth. Slowwwing down and acknowledging all the effort that went into putting food on your plate will make three times a day more meaningful.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
7. Scan your body.
Blood’s pumping and you barely even feel it. Air fills your lungs whether you’re awake or not. When you need to feel grounded, do just that: Lie on the floor and feel the weight of your body against the ground. Pay attention to the big picture basics—your legs carry you from room to room, your fingers write love notes, your arms can cradle a baby—and all the cellulite/acne/weight gripes hush themselves.
8. Leave surprises for yourself.
Somewhere in the bottom of my purse is a pebble from a Portuguese beach. Once a week or so I stumble across it and think about those days, with that sun and those caipirinhas. I use business cards from places I’ve traveled as bookmarks. These little day-makers have a way of revealing themselves just when the universe decides you need it most. Leave digital or physical notes for yourself—in your calendar, on your phone, in the margins of your books—to nudge Future You with notes of gratitude from Past You.
9. Decorate a gratitude tree.
Sorry to say, but Target’s latest ornament designs are nothing but pretty. Perhaps instead go the route of my friend, who decorates his Christmas tree with polaroids of his friends. How sweet is that? Almost sweet enough to leave up all year ’round.
10. Surround yourself with meaningful items.
My goddaughter’s pre-school photo, in which she stuck her tongue out, is the last thing I see before I leave my house each day. A Valentine a toddler made me is tucked into my wallet. A doodle a friend who lives halfway across the world wrote for me on a napkin is slowly fading away in a frame. A blanket my mother knit me is draped over my bed.
Get the idea? Tiny, tangible reminders of those you love remind you of why you’re on this earth. I’m grateful you’re here, I’m grateful I’m here, and I’m grateful that pebble from the Portuguese beach is here. Happy season of warm fuzzies, friends.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er who muses about life, design and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. Her life rules include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tip in cash and contribute to your IRA. Be a pal and subscribe to her newsletter Night Vision or follow her on Instagram.