The world kind of sucks right now.
We’re bombarded daily with horrible news and too many election attack ads on television. Some of you are still dealing with daylight savings time’s affect on your kids, and for others, snow bird traffic is just beginning. It’s cold and flu season. Until May. And we have about a thousand things to get done by the end of the year. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity. For me, up until recently, my days were spent complaining about how uncomfortable I was in my final few weeks of pregnancy.
So let’s change the narrative this month. November is the month of Thanksgiving, and regardless of its origins, the holiday is rooted in gratitude. Gratitude grounds us in the present moment, allowing us to have a clearer look beyond our current experiences. It allows us to connect with a higher power in whatever form it takes for you. In a study completed at the University of Miami, subjects were asked to write about things that they were grateful for throughout the week. After ten weeks, they reported higher levels of optimism and felt more positively about their lives. In another study, they found that gratitude for one’s partner can also improve one’s ability to communicate about the more difficult things (1). Cultivating gratitude has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, a sense of well-being, self-esteem, mental strength, empathy, physical health, and overall life satisfaction (2, 3). These are things I really could have used when my daughter was kicking my bladder every five seconds and my round ligament pain was unbearable, you know what I mean?!
This month, I’m challenging you to look at your life and your world with gratitude. Practicing gratitude on a daily basis does not need to take up copious amounts of time, nor does it require much energy. Here are some ideas to get you started in your gratitude practice this month:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Set an alarm on your phone or include it in your bedtime routine (my favorite). Make a short list of three items for which you are grateful. These don’t have to be lengthy descriptions and can just be related to your experiences that day. This is my personal strategy, as it helps me to clear the stress of the day. (TIP: if you’ve had an argument with your partner or struggles with someone, putting their name on the list helps to put things back into perspective.)
- Write a thank you note. You don’t have to send it, but can you imagine the impact it could make?
- Practice mindfulness. Once that alarm goes off on your phone, take 30 seconds to list your gratitude. Take a look at the little things throughout your day and mentally say “thank you.”
- Meditate or pray. Taking even just five minutes to reflect or sit in silence is a wonderful way to bring yourself into the present moment.
- Give your time. There is something so powerful in volunteering your time.
- Participate in a gratitude challenge. Heads up! Coming your way soon.
How do you plan to practice gratitude in November?