"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is
the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
-1 Thessalonians 5:18
I have to admit. The first day the reminder popped up on my iPhone prompting me with “What are you grateful for,” I quickly dismissed it. I was too busy shuttling the kids out of the house, into the van and off to school. I’ll do this later, I thought. When I have a second to sit down and think about it.
My day continued in a flurry. When I finally did have time to sit down, I was so tired that I fell asleep.
So, when my reminder buzzed again the next day, I decided to acknowledge my gratitude right then and there. It just so happens that I was in the middle of a diaper-change. I’m grateful that I get to change a diaper right now. I’m grateful for three happy, healthy kids.
To my surprise, my day seemed less frazzled. I saw things differently. Could it be because of my simple acknowledgement of gratitude?
I sat down with two experts – a life coach and marriage and family therapist – to learn more about putting this into practice.
Gratitude begets gratitude
Speaker, trainer and coach Jill Ann Anderson says gratitude won’t judge you for starting small. “If all you can come up with is one word, then just start there,” she says.
She suggests keeping it simple, but staying consistent. “Once you get your mind in the flow of gratitude, more will come to you.”
Look beyond the ordinary
While being grateful for family and friends is definitely important, stretch yourself to look beyond the ordinary. During one particularly long day at work, I had about 45 seconds to step outside and breathe in some of the crisp, fall air. Thank you, God, for these deep, cleansing breaths and silent moments, I thought. I opened my eyes and saw a cardinal, my favorite bird and one that gives me hope. Thank you for that sign, Lord, I thought. Gratitude begets gratitude.
Set a daily reminder on your smartphone with a simple prompt like, “What are you grateful for right now?” Even in the midst of a busy day, Anderson says there’s always time for gratitude.
“Talk with your kids in the car while you’re driving to soccer practice,” she says. “It opens up this energy of gratitude in your life.”
Write it down
Whether it’s a journal by your bedside or a gratitude jar sitting on your kitchen counter, write it down. Spend a moment at the end of your day reflecting on what made you smile. Then, at the end of the year, read through your journal or empty your jar and review what you wrote. Smile and laugh and get ready to do it all again.
66 days to a new habit
Kate Walsh Soucheray, licensed marriage and family therapist, says it takes 66 days for the brain to learn a new habit.
“When we are grateful and move in a positive direction, that thinking creates new pathways that allow us to let go of negative thoughts,” Soucheray says. “As we do that, we literally create new neuropathways that lead to and nurture more positive thinking.”