S is for Self Care: Reflections on Gratitude
This post may contain affiliate links; find my full disclosure here.
November is here and the holidays are already upon us. Why is it that as soon as Halloween is over the focus seems to shift immediately to Christmas? I understand that the Christmas season is full of joy and excitement, but what about Thanksgiving? It seems that this lovely and important occasion is being pushed aside by the craze of striving for the perfect Christmas season. To me the month of November and the Thanksgiving holiday should offer up a chance to reflect on our gratitude for the meaningful things in our daily life and to embrace the friends and family we hold so dear. It is in the spirit of the month of November that I would like to reflect on 5 ways to incorporate more gratitude into our daily lives. Here we go:
Be in the Moment
There has been a lot of buzz about the practice of mindfulness lately. Being mindful is truly about being present in the moment at hand – not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. Allowing ourselves to just be in this exact moment. Notice how your body feels. Are you holding tension anywhere? Is something painful or uncomfortable? Are you hot or cold? Hungry or full? Utilize your senses. What do you hear? What do you see? What physical sensations do you feel? What do you smell or taste? Breathe and focus on just being in the moment. Remind yourself that right now in this instance you are safe, you are well and you are content.
The idea of staying in the moment seems so easy, but it is remarkably hard. Our minds quickly wander off to our tasks and worries. It is easy to become frustrated by not being able to stay in the moment for long. I encourage you to practice self compassion by noticing when your mind has drifted away and gently bring yourself back to the present moment without judgement or criticism. Breath. Relax. Appreciate the moment and reflect on your experience.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Another popular idea is to perform a random act of kindness for someone who is not expecting it. Bake cookies for the neighbors. Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you. Open doors. Offer assistance. Surprise a friend or coworker with a small gift of love. Smile and offer sincere compliments. It just feels good to give back to others. My sweet blogger friend Charlene over at Thinking Outside the Pot has recently published a post on random acts of kindness and included adorable free random act of kindness printable tags. Click HERE or on the image below to access her great post.
Write a Heartfelt Note
Is there someone in your life who you would be lost without? Do you have a friend or loved one who has really been there for you during a particularly challenging time? Is there someone whom you really admire and look up to?It can be really meaningful to intentionally put into words how much someone special means to us. I know I am guilty of not telling my husband how much I love him and how much I appreciate him often enough. In the busyness of raising two young children, the words just don’t get said as often as they should. Do yourself a favor and write a few heartfelt words of gratitude to someone who means the world to you.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
I will be the first to admit that writing in a journal does not come naturally to me. I never know quite where to start and it often feels silly like I am a teenager writing in my diary. I do, however, love the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. Writing out a list seems much more doable to me than free form journal writing. The concept of a gratitude journal is to spend a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day writing down 3-5 things that you are truly grateful for. This is not just to write down the big things over and over, but to really focus on the little moments of joy and gratitude from each day as well.
I have recently seen some great writing prompts for keeping a gratitude journal such as this one from Text My Journal. Isn’t this an amazing way to get started? I love it! Click HERE or on the image below to access the original article.
Appreciate the Small Things
Appreciating the small things is part of being in the moment and keeping a gratitude journal, but can also be a skill we learn to do better on its own. Some of the small things that I have appreciated today include the taste of my freshly brewed pumpkin spice coffee this morning, the sound of my children giggling and playing nicely together, the vibrant color of the fall leaves against a crisp blue sky, getting a free case and cleaning cloth with my new sunglasses, the smell of a warm load of clean towels, the soft feel of my favorite blanket and the big loving hug my husband gave me tonight before retreating downstairs to his “man cave”. None of these things are earth shattering or even that exciting, but they are the moments that make up the joy in my days. It is easy to get so dragged down by our real life stresses and problems and the world around us that we forget to appreciate the small things. I find that the more I intentionally look for and appreciate the small things the more often I am noticing and appreciating things without effort.
So tell me, how do you practice gratitude in your life? Do you have anything that you would add to this list? I would love to hear from you in the comments. I truly believe that the world needs more kindness and gratitude right now to make it a better place. These 5 ideas about how to practice gratitude are easy ways for us all to get started. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude!
My posts are partying at these fun Link Parties and Blog Hops!