While we shouldn’t need a special holiday to express gratitude, sometimes we do,and that’s okay. When life gets challenging, it’s hard to say “thanks for the struggles, Universe,” but studies show that this is when we need gratitude most. Expressing gratitude can help us feel more satisfied with our lives and improve the quality of our relationships. In happiness studies, such as The Science of Gratitude, expressing gratitude is always a front-runner for how to feel more happy.
If you are feeling like you could use a bit more happiness or in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, try one (or all) of our gratitude practices and let us know what comes up for you in the comments!
Write It Down
Create a gratitude journal or jar and use it daily or weekly, whichever practice you can stick to. You can use a prompt such as picking something that went well that day, a happy memory you want to remember, or listing out things you are thankful for. On tough days, when gratitude seems the most difficult getting broad or simple with your thanks list. Write thanks for a roof over your head, a hot meal, and your favorite comfy sweater and it will remind you how much you truly have to be grateful for.
An added benefit of choosing the gratitude are is you can watch it fill up over time. If you chosen a year, you can start your New Year in gratitude while you read all your happy memories and moment of joys and welcome in the new year with deep gratitude for the last.
If a daily journal practice calls to you more the concept is the same. Pick up a pretty journal that will make you want to grab it every morning or night, commit to a practice that resonates with you such as before bed or upon waking, and write down the things you are grateful for.
It can be hard to keep adding to the jar or journal in the tough times when nothing seems to be going right, but that is when it is most important to keep up the work. Feel your feelings but keep up with the practice and know that this gratitude practice is especially important during the times it is hardest. This is the time to double down. If you normally write three gratitude items, write five, or brain dump all the things you can think of like your health, a friend you can call on, or your new gratitude practice that is teaching you new ways to view your life. The point is to keep it going, day after day, rain or shine and watch how it changes your outlook.
Join one of the many social media challenges that range from 30 days to 365. If you like you can join our challenge, #WildGratitude. Each week we will post prompts and each day you will post a photo to social media with a caption of what you are grateful for. There are so many challenges out there so if ours doesn’t resonate with you, find one that does! If social media isn’t your jam or you’d like to keep some of these things private, choose a partner or close friend to share your photos with daily. Challenges are more fun with a friend and having an accountability-buddy helps keep you motivated!
Say Thank You
Find ways to say thank you to those who have helped you, inspired you, or given you something you appreciate. If your spouse picks up the house, take the time to say thank you. If someone sends you a nice gift, write them a thank you note. Taking the time to personally thank people not only gives you the warm fuzzies, it makes them feel good too. In turn when people feel appreciated they will keep up the things that made you thankful to them in the first place perpetuating a cycle of gratitude.
A challenge we loved was for one week, each day we wrote someone a thank you letter and gave it to them. Genuine hand written thank you notes can be pretty rare these days, and when you commit to writing it down, it forces you to look for something/someone throughout the day to be able to write a note to. Looking for things to be grateful for typically amounts in finding way too much to write down and a realization that you have so much to be grateful for.
We hope these tips inspire you to start a gratitude practice of your own. If you are going solo we are here to support you, but if you want to join our challenge we are starting a month long social media challenge on November 3rd called #WildGratitude. We will be posting daily gratitudes on our Instagram handle @wilderwomen_ and posting prompts and weekly blogs for you to follow along. Be sure to give the blog a follow so the posts go straight to your inbox. We will be picking a winner at the end of the month to give away a swagbag and some amazing prizes to!
Just because November is typically a month of giving thanks doesn’t mean it is the only month. You don’t need the month of November to work on gratitude skills, but you can use it as your starting point and your launch pad for whatever new practices you have decided on. Are there other gratitude practices you implement? Let us know in the comments!
Co-Written by Wilderwomen Jess Brown & Mandy Schenkemeyer