Three Simple Ways to Cultivate Gratitude This Season
It's that time of year again when Thanksgiving is speeding at us and Christmas is just around the corner. It’s a busier than usual time full of preparations and to-do lists. It's also a time when we seem to really look and see what we have in our lives and then also notice those around us who don’t have the same things.
We all know what it means to give thanks and its an important part of our social and societal communities – we acknowledge services provided and gestures, manners and kindness by saying, "Thank you." When we cultivate gratitude however we focus on all the things in our lives that make us feel happy and lucky to be alive. Gratitude brings our attention into the present and makes what we have right now enough, it puts situations into perspective by seeing both the good and the bad.
Cultivating gratitude is a choice and it takes a little ploughing, digging and tending to everyday – it's growing your happiness and joy crops and harvesting zest, appreciation and connectedness.
A good gratitude practice is developed over time but here are a few simple ways you can kickstart your festive season with a fullness of heart, a feeling of connection to those you love and your community and a little hop skip and a jump in your step that says "Yes! I am happy to be alive!"
Write gratitude notes
Choose five people who have had an impact on your life and write them a note. Tell them how they have impacted your life, what gifts they have given you, lessons you have learned, how meeting them and knowing them has affected you. And then, if possible, hand deliver it.
We take for granted that those around us "just know", they just know we love them, just know how special they are – no one is a mind reader, sometimes you have to say the words. A note is a beautiful thing to be treasured and reread and will continue to create love and joy in the universe. If you're feeling really daring, challenge your family this year to write each other gratitude notes as part of your gifts to each other – a note can be as simple as "I wanted you to know that I love having you as my brother and you're the coolest dude I know. Thank you for always being there for me." Go write some stuff!
Give back to society
Gratitude is inspired by the awareness that you have many basic things that others may lack - – family, a place to call home, food, gifts for each other. What I have noticed even more than these things is recognition, to be seen and acknowledged, to be embraced, hugged, to be heard. These are all basic, fundamental needs that us as human beings have. I know that life is busy and we all seem to be running out of hours, so find something that you can fit into your schedule – giving back shouldn’t be a check list thing, it should be something you do because you want to. Volunteer, visit a care home, engage and speak to the elderly, the homeless. Give flowers, donate to a soup kitchen. When you give your love, time, canned peas, laughter, hugs with an open heart, you are open to receiving abundance.
Start a gratitude journal
Another journal… if you only ever have one then make it a gratitude journal. Each day for the next month (or as many times as you can) first thing in the morning with your coffee or just before bed ask yourself the following three questions:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
This practice developed by a philosopher in the 1600’s will help you find more meaning and joy. It will help you to deepen your connection to the love and amazing things that you do have. By offering gratitude for all the good, great and wonderful that we experience and by putting that out into the universe we extend the invitation for more of these experiences and blessing.
There is no limit to what you can express gratitude for, so go out there and give your thanks.