While I don’t believe in waiting until Thanksgiving to give thanks, ’tis the season of giving and this holiday inherently encourages us to practice gratitude. I do my best to express gratitude on a daily basis for the multitude of fantastic things I have to be grateful for in my life. My boss often jokes that I am always in a good mood and it’s true – I don’t have many bad days. That might sound obnoxious but I fully credit my positive attitude to practicing appreciation for small victories (free snacks at the office!) and keeping inconveniences in perspective (I would always rather be the person sitting in traffic than the person in the accident causing traffic).
So on the eve of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share a list of my favorite ways to practice and express gratitude.
- WRITE A NOTE – I know this one is obvious but thanking someone for something nice they have done for you or for how they might have made your day a little bit better is a great practice! I am also of the belief that a thank you doesn’t have to be sent via snail mail – I personally appreciate a thoughtfully written thank you email more than a generic thank you card with just a signature.
- COMPLIMENT OTHERS FREELY – I will never forget one morning when I was riding the train to a work meeting, a gentleman stopped me before exiting the train and said “Excuse me miss, but you look stunning today – thinking it to myself wasn’t doing me any good so I wanted to say it to you. Have a nice day!” It was startling but also incredibly flattering! He made a good point – thinking something nice about another person is great but sharing that nice thought with them is definitely better. Now I make it a point to share compliments freely, because if you have something nice to say it’s almost always better to say it!
- CREATE AN APPRECIATION CALENDAR – I do this in my daily planner/to-do list. I leave 2 blank lines to write down 2 things I am grateful for that day. It might sound tedious but now that I have made it a habit it takes less than a minute each day. There is no better way to snap out of a weird mood than to look back and see my growing list of reasons to be grateful.
- GO COMPLAINT FREE – test yourself for how long you can go without vocalizing a single complaint. This exercise will not only change your own mental state, but it will also benefit the people around you! Tim Ferriss talks in detail about how powerful this exercise is in his Real Mind Control post – definitely worth the read.
- EVERYTHING IS A GIFT – consider every good thing you get today as a gift and give thanks each time you receive one. Morning cup of coffee, free donuts at work, great weather outside, a productive conversation, great new recipe you discovered… I could go on. Acknowledge each of these little “gifts” with gratitude!
Lastly, here’s a fun anecdote before you go: When my brother was in college he lived in the dorms and every day he ate at his school cafeteria facing the soft serve machine. When I asked him why he told me that it was because every single person (without fail!) that got a soft serve ice cream cone would walk away from the machine with a little smile on their face and it made him laugh.
The best part about this story is that it holds true everywhere! Ever since my brother told me that story I always pay attention at frozen yogurt or ice cream shops and no one can resist at least a small smile when they’re handed an ice cream cone. That’s gratitude! It makes my day every time I see or even think about it and I hope that it will make yours too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I wish for you a slice (or three!) of delicious pie with many generous scoops of ice cream!
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