How to Add Thankfulness to Your Life
Have you ever struggled to be thankful? Those times when it is just hard to find a glimmer of light in a cloudy sky. That would not be a surprise.
The frantic pace of the world creates a tremendous amount of stress that keeps you from being able to emotionally regulate. And with all that taking place, perhaps your marriage is struggling. Or your communication could use some help.
And all of this creates a challenge to be thankfulness. But an attitude of gratitude or thankfulness can provide a huge boost to your emotional and mental well-being.
So, if you want to know what steps you can take to live a more thankful live, keep reading. Here are some tips on how to live a thankful life.
Tip #1 to Be Thankful — Write a Gratitude Journal:
If you are anything like me, you probably spend a decent amount of time worrying about all the things that are not going right. You might carry your anxious thoughts about all the future unknowns with you throughout the day. They might even keep you up at night.
How much time do you set aside to intentionally reflect on the things you are thankful for?
It’s not so automatic to spend time thinking about what you may have. Creating a gratitude journal can do that for you. You can carve out ten minutes a day to write out a couple paragraphs or a list of what you have to be thankful for the day.
Did you talk to a friend today? Did someone treat you to coffee or lunch? Was a door held open for you as you walked into a place of business? Do you have a working car or an apartment to come home to? A warm shower?
Seriously, it doesn’t have to be anything huge. Just write about what you are grateful for. You will begin to see a shift in your level of thankfulness.
Tip #2 to Be Thankful — Hunt for the Good:
When you “hunt for the good,” you are actively and mindfully looking for what good things are taking place throughout our day. This differs from the gratitude journal in that you aren’t just reflecting on the day. You are trying to catch it as it happens.
You want to hear and accept the compliments that come your way. You want to see the funny interactions that take place with your kids. You want to feel the warm sunlight on your body, or the beauty of the changing colors of leaves.
Rather than waiting for something bad to happen or for “the other shoe to drop,” be on the lookout for the nice things that are happening.
Tip #3 to Be Thankful — Volunteer:
If you’ve got a cynical view of life, there is a cure. It’s called volunteering. Practicing altruism, or behaviors that focus on the well-being of others, can help turn attention away from ourselves. We focus less on what we don’t have, and more on what we can give or share.
Not only does this type of action change the person who you have helped, but it also has the power to change your perception on humanity. It has the power to change your perception on what is good.
This shift of focus can assist in lessening anxiety. How? Anxiety is often built upon an inward focus of fear. It feeds off of what is impacting you or what could go wrong for you. Anxiety is worry about your future. Your needs. Your wants. And what happens if you lose those things.
Volunteering places the emphasis on others. On the needs of others. On helping others. And that can change your perception on life and community. And it will change your motivation for achieving.
And once you have changed that perception, you are likely to feel greater expressions of gratitude.
Tip #4 to Be Thankful — Random Act of Kindness:
Have you ever been part of one of those coffee buying chains in a drive thru before? You know, the one at Starbucks when the car in front of you bought your drink for you? Sometimes those chains of kindness go on for hours, bringing joy and surprise from one car to the next.
If you’ve ever participated in something like that, how did that random act of kindness make you feel? Did it change your day? Improve your mood?
Or ever seen one of those videos of a mail carrier being surprised by snacks at the doorstep of a house. The look of surprise. The sense of joy or happiness that swells up inside.
Ever see a video like this on the internet? If not, you should google it. If so, what was your emotional reaction to it? It’s likely that a smile automatically came upon your face. You may have even had a feeling of wanting to be part of it.
Much like volunteering, a random act of kindness can impact the lives of others. And when you are performing that random act of kindness, you are the influence of that positive impact. How does the thought of bringing joy to another person make you feel?
Providing a random act of kindness for others can open your eyes to opportunities to care. Again, this turns your attention away from negative thoughts. Instead, you begin to think about what you do have.
And you begin to feel thankful.
You might be dealing with anxiety or stress right now. There are real things to be concerned about in life. Yet, even in the midst of that stress, there are things happening in your life to be thankful for.
By following the tips in this email, you can change your mindset from cynicism to thankfulness. You can see a positive change in how you are feeling. And you can positively impact others around you while doing it.
There are times when making a transition of mindset requires a little more assistance. You can find a professional counselor to help you take the steps to shift how you are feeling and thinking.
Jason Wilkinson is a mental health counselor in Tualatin, Oregon at Wellspace Counseling. He enjoys helping individuals find live a life of gratitude and find freedom from anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Wellspace Counseling serves the Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Tigard, and Greater Portland Metro Area.