For many people in North America, being thankful and expressing gratitude is something that only happens once a year. Having a holiday like Thanksgiving shines a light on being thankful and forces everyone to stop and think about gratitude for a second. The thing we are missing out on is that practicing gratitude is so powerful, that it can literally change your life. Do you get depressed often? Do you find yourself wanting more all the time? A better car? A nicer house? Is your relationship rocky? Do you find yourself arguing all the time? Do your kids drive you crazy? What if I told you that all of these things can improve with gratitude?
While thanksgiving is primarily a North American holiday, there are other countries that have similar holidays in which giving thanks and being grateful is part of the celebration. For many years, one of the traditions of my family was going around the room at Thanksgiving dinner and saying something that you were thankful for. Certainly, it’s a great exercise, especially for young kids to be thinking about gratitude and what they are thankful for. I can’t emphasize enough how impactful gratitude can be. One of the areas I just mentioned was depression.
Gratitude is the antidote to depression. Let me say that again because it’s really important: gratitude is the antidote to depression. It is nearly impossible to be depressed if you are grateful.
So if you are someone that feels down a lot. You need to start practicing gratitude. Here’s a disclaimer first. If you have severe depression, thought of suicide, or have tried many things with no luck, please seek professional help in your area. But for many people who feel down, if there was an easy and FREE way to get you out of your ruts, to bounce back from those times when you are feeling down, would you do it? I’m not promising this happens overnight, although there have been times where this will change my thought immediately.
Here are a couple of things you can do to practice gratitude:
1) Write down what you are grateful for. Put a notepad next to your bed and right when you wake up or right before you go to sleep, write down 3 things you are grateful for. I am thankful for the roof over my head, that I have food to eat.. Or maybe you are thankful that your children are healthy. Writing it down is very important as it solidifies it. While there might be some huge weights keeping you down right now, you are trying to train your brain to think about the positive things instead of the bad. And it works.
2) Gratitude Meditation – Use YouTube or a meditation app and find a 5 minute guided gratitude meditation. You close your eyes and someone will talk you through the meditation. It’s easy, only takes a few minutes, and it can leave you feeling great afterward.
3) Replace Negative Thoughts With Gratitude – Catch yourself when you say something negative or are thinking about something negative and replace it with a positive, gratitude statement. For example, this traffic is horrible. Replace the thought with “I can’t do anything about this traffic, I’m going to listen to some music and enjoy the time I have in the car.” This one is not easy. We all have constant negative thoughts throughout the day. You have to catch yourself when you do this and turn it around. There are so many ways in which gratitude and being thankful can positively impact our lives: Are you wanting more things all the time? Car? House? We need to be grateful for what we already have. More things will come into our lives when we appreciate what we already have. Are you critical of your spouse and always pointing out what they are doing wrong? Turn it around and focus on what they are doing right. Did your wife take care of the baby this morning? Be grateful you have a partner you trust to watch your child. Did clean underwear just magically appear in your drawer? Be grateful someone else did your laundry.
Or how about with your children? Did your child just make a mess with their toys? Be grateful you have a healthy, normal child. I’m not saying any of this is easy but if you recognize the pattern here it is changing the way we think. It’s changing our thoughts. We have complete control over how we see people and situations.
We have the ability to choose whether something bothers us or that we can be grateful. I’m telling you. I’m promising you. If you choose gratitude, your life is going to be easier and happier.