I love this time of year. There is a feeling in the air of love and laughter while everyone is focused on thankfulness and giving. I often wonder why we let this feeling be limited to such a short period of time (mainly from Thanksgiving to just after New Years). The rest of the year we allow these feelings to fade away and we get caught up in our lives. It is especially easy for us moms to get caught up in taking care of the day-to-day needs of our families. The busier we get and the more demands there are on our time sometimes cause us to lose sight of amazing blessings.
It is not easy to be satisfied with the way things are when we are consistently focused on what we don’t like, which unfortunately we tend to do. We easily allow ourselves to get caught up in what we want to make better, what we want to change and the things we don’t want to do during the day. Shifting our focus to the things that are blessings can completely change the way we feel about our lives. Gratitude is an extension of fulfillment; you cannot feel one without the other. In order to feel fulfilled as a mother and as a person in general, we must feel content and happy with all aspects of their lives.
Whether we are weathering a storm in life or enjoying calm waters, there are ways we can ensure we don’t lose our gratitude. First, ensure that we stay grateful for “The Big Ones.” These are the big and obvious blessings, such as friends, children, spouses, a home, a job, etc. Regardless of what these items are for you, these will be a constant fountain of gratitude you can tap into regardless of what challenges you are facing. Consistently reminding ourselves of these gifts will help make sure we don’t take them for granted and keep perspective of what is truly important to us.
Another way to ensure we don’t lose gratitude in these times is to never forget that each trouble is a new opportunity to be grateful. Regardless of the situation, there is always something to be grateful for. Looking at event the hardest situations we can be grateful for several things; the experience and knowledge that we gained, our skills and talents to face adversity, or all the people who help us through.
Lastly, realize that everything we face throughout our days is new opportunity to be grateful. Every minute that passes is a new time to realize the amazing things about our lives. As you begin looking for things in your life to feel gratitude for, don’t leave out the little things. Examples could be looking up at an amazing sunset, watching your child sleep in peace, a good book or great cup of coffee. Whatever it may be that warms your heart deserves a moment of gratitude.
Incorporating these things in a daily practice can facilitate gratitude becoming a natural part of your life. If this practice is consistent, the way you look at your life will shift and eventually you will simply be living gratitude versus practicing it. Here are some exercises that can help:
- List out “The Big Ones”. This allows you to have a list that you can read and still feel grateful regardless of what is going on in your life. This should include the top items in your life whether it is circumstances, people, experiences you have had or things you love about yourself.
- Every day write down 10 things you are grateful for. This can be in a journal or use an index card every day and create a gratitude box you can flip through quickly when needed.
- Write a letter to someone in your life expressing your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be sent and can stay safely in your journal if you wish; even writing out wonderful things about others will help you treat them with gratitude.
- Each day before bed reflect on the days activities and find a reason to be grateful for each situation. If you argued with someone, be grateful for the lesson you may have learned. If you had a fun experience, be grateful for the moments of bliss. Whether it is a hug, the way your spouse spoke to you, the smile your child gave you; allow yourself to experience true gratitude as you reflect.
- Every morning reflect how grateful you are to be alive. Be grateful for your breath, your movement, and your heartbeat. Don’t underestimate the power of simply being grateful that you woke up to experience this day.