How to maintain an attitude of gratitude (even when life gets crazy)
It’s that time of year again – when the holiday season busts down our doors (whether we’re ready for it or not), overflowing with fun family get-togethers, loads of colorful lights, and tidal waves of good cheer. So what’s the key to making it through the madness with giant smiles on our faces? It isn’t having the fanciest feast, the most decked-out décor, or even a big holiday bonus – it’s an attitude of gratitude!
As delightfully cheery as the holidays can be, they can also be a bit maddening. Practicing gratitude can have physical, mental, and social benefits that can help us through the insanity of the season (and the rest of the year, too). So join us as we share a hearty handful of reminders to act more graciously and gain a better grip on all of our (holi)day-to-(holi)day demands…
- Designate a daily time to say, “Thanks”
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Focus on the “now”
- Make time for quiet reflection
- Don’t criticize!
- Send a thank-you note (or three)
6 ways to practice gratitude
(like you really, really mean it)
1. Designate a daily time to say, “Thanks.”
Here in the States, we have an awesomely delicious national holiday that reminds us to feel thankful (thank you, Abraham Lincoln). But gratitude can – and should – be a year-round thing. So, before you carve that turkey, carve out some time to say “thanks” for something good in your life – and then do it again each day!
Surely you’re busy, but it shouldn’t take long – only a minute or two – to choose 3 things you’re thankful for. Do it every day before you sit down to dinner, or right before you go to bed. You can even give thanks as soon as you wake up, starting your day in the best possible way!
2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Need somewhere to store all those thankful thoughts that are knockin’ around your noggin? Write ‘em all down in a journal or notebook! Use this practice when you’re feeling down, or simply as a daily exercise to remind yourself of everything good that’s going on in your life. You might even find that the act of writing out your thankful thoughts can reinforce them, making them feel more firm and “real” in your mind.
3. Focus on the “now”
With a house full of raucous relatives to entertain and a big Thanksgiving feast to cook, it can be hard to keep track of all the timely (yet relatively trivial) happenings such as the latest Black Friday announcements or who’s winning the big football game. This season, take a step back, put your phone away, and halt the multitasking for a few hours. Turn your focus toward the here-n-now – enjoying the murmur of close friends conversing, the smell of good food in the oven, or the warmth of a loved one’s long-overdue embrace. You may feel pressured by a deluge of holiday demands, but you can lighten your load by simply saving a few things for later – after everything has quieted down (and boisterous Uncle Bobby has fallen asleep).
4. Make time for quiet reflection
To feel more at-peace in the present, it can be helpful to reflect on what’s happened in the past. Find a moment during your day that you can meditate, recite a prayer, or quietly look back on decisions and events that have led you to where you are today. Doing so can help you have a greater appreciation for your current situation.
Even reflecting on the not-so-good stuff can reveal nuggets of goodness. For example, if you feel like you don’t have any free time, realize that it’s because your days are full of people who love you and want to spend time with you. Or, if you’re having a hard time saving money for gifts, focus on the fact that you have a roof over your head, employment, and food on the table.
5. Don’t criticize!
Finding fault in every encounter can take a toll on your ability to grasp (and benefit from) gratitude. Instead of pointing out problems and assigning blame, try to go one week without making any critical comments – especially about yourself! (We know you may still think ‘em, but try to keep that to a minimum too!) If do you catch yourself letting a critical comment slip, double-down on your efforts – pay a compliment to the person the next time you see them. (Just make sure it’s honest-n-authentic!)
6. Send a thank-you note (or three).
Thank-yous aren’t just for people who get you nice presents – they’re also great for those who’ve graciously hosted you at their home, or for gifts you’ve gotten in the past! Remind someone who got you through a tough situation that you’re still grateful for their help, or wish an old friend good fortune and positive vibes in the coming New Year.
Thank-you notes are especially appreciated by those you haven’t seen or talked to recently. Surprise an old teacher or distant relative with a hand-written note (instead of an impersonal Facebook message), and you’ll be sure to brighten their day!
A little gratitude makes a BIG difference!
Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean your life is perfect – far from it. It simply means that you’re taking time to acknowledge that, in spite of how crazy things can get, you appreciate the good that IS in your life.
Remember: An attitude of gratitude is a mental state – it’s a choice. By choosing to feel thankful, you will be able to clearly see your many blessings while building resilience to the obstacles and challenges that can come your way. So, do yourself a favor and practice gratitude every single day!
If you’re a Sonic Boom member (through your employer), we want to hear how you’re thankful. We know many of you have accomplished great things through the Sonic Boom program, and now’s your chance to share your story!
Visit our Sonic Success Stories page and send details of your story through the quick-n-easy submission form. We’ll touch base with you soon after to get any additional info (and to applaud you for your awesome achievement) before it’s posted as inspiration to others looking to build healthier habits.
Flippant Writer Extraordinaire