Be honest. How many memes touting the virtues of gratitude have you seen today?
It’s become such a cliché during these stressful times that we’re even seeing some backlash on social media.
I get it – sometimes, you just don’t feel like being grateful. Sometimes, you just want to have your moment.
And that’s okay, and to a certain extent, it’s even helpful.
But the fact remains that you’ll become more resilient when you learn to focus on the things you’ve got going for you in life.
In other words, developing a gratitude practice will help you get through tough times.
Because you’ll be focusing on the positive and what you can change, as opposed to the negative and things you can’t change.
Focusing on things you can’t change feeds feelings of hopelessness, and I think we can all agree that we need less of that.
So how do we practice gratitude without it becoming yet another cumbersome thing to add to our ever-expanding to-do list?
I have good news – developing a gratitude practice does NOT need to be a big ordeal.
You can do it over your morning coffee.
Here’s how to practice gratitude in 2 simple steps…
Step 1 – Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. The concept isn’t anything new.
But nowadays, with time and focus being in short demand, I hear a lot of people balk at the mention of keeping a gratitude journal.
It just sounds like too much of a big project to maintain right now.
I mean, let’s face it – it does sound like homework.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to make a big deal out of it.
Just write down three things that you’re grateful for. That’s it. No need to go overboard.
No need to overthink it. They don’t have to be off the charts amazing things.
Just three things.
You don’t even need a fancy diary to write in.
Last summer, I ran out of space in my gratitude journal and didn’t get around to buying a new one for a while, so I ended up using a plain old pad of paper.
Guess what? It still worked great.
So, don’t overthink it. Just get in the daily habit of writing three things you’re glad to have in your life.
Step 2 – Look for themes
Now that you’re logging the things that make you feel grateful, the next step after a couple weeks is to look for themes.
What people, places, and things come up over and over again in your gratitude journal?
Again, don’t over-think.
Are there certain activities that consistently bring you joy?
As I looked over my entries from the pandemic last summer, I definitely noticed some common themes. The most common had to be my kids.
I have a son and a daughter and – not surprisingly – my interactions with them show up frequently.
It was just the small things, mostly.
The sound of my son laughing showed up one day, dinner with my son, a phone call with my daughter, a walk with my daughter – these were the moments that made me feel most grateful.
A second theme that came up a lot for me was my friends. Again, it wasn’t anything complicated that showed up, it was usually a phone call, or a walk, or an Italian club I meet up with in High Park in the summertime.
And the third major theme I noticed was food! Burrito Boyz definitely made the list, so did pizza and a spaghetti carbonara that I made that turned out great. There’s mention of a trout dinner, a turkey soup that I made, and ramen.
So, there we go: kids, friends, and food. It was a good summer.
You can expect your themes to change over the course a few weeks or even days. What’s important is that you notice that you have something to be grateful for.
We know there’s a lot of science and research to back up the power of gratitude, and how it helps to keep us positive and strengthens our resilience.
We’ve only just scratched the surface here.
I look forward to seeing you there!