Thursday, January 05, 2012

5 Ways to Practice Gratitude

One of the things I learned during this past year was that gratitude doesn't come naturally to me.  Perhaps just as some people are filled with the milk of human kindness, others are filled with the wine of gratitude, but I'm not.

However, I have discovered 5 ways to learn how to be more grateful each day.

1.  Be attentive
When I drift through life, not really paying attention to what's going on, I miss many of the small things that make up daily gratitudes.  For example, as I sit here this morning, the sun has emerged from hiding, something it does frequently in Oregon winters, and is illuminating the yard with gold.  If I didn't stop and look outside, I would have missed this moment for gratitude.  And trust me, it won't last long in Oregon, land of the grey drizzle.

2. Write it down
I always think that I'll remember from day to day, but once I go to bed, I promptly forget everything I might have been grateful for the day before.  I have to write down what I've noticed or it will evaporate forever.  So each night, before I turn off the light, I simply jot down two or three things in a simple journal.  Nothing fancy, no elaboration, just "Sunlight on the deck this morning" or "Call from a friend."

3. Think small
I don't always have big, huge, ginornous things to be grateful for each day and I doubt you do either. After all, we can only get our dream job, take a once-in-lifetime trip, fall in love now and then. However, every day has something in it that can create long as we are willing to think small.  A cup of coffee with just the right amount of cream.  Clothes fresh from the dryer.  (No trying to dry on a rack in front of the heater.) A cuddle with the cat.  If you shift your focus from the macro to the micro, there is always something to be grateful for.

4. Keep looking
There have been times when I honestly didn't think there was anything to be grateful for.  Those were the days when I didn't allow myself to go to sleep until I found one thing, even if it was just that I had survived another day.Through that process I learned that there is always something, no matter how minute, that I can be grateful for, even in the midst of the worst times.

5. Make a commitment
If you want to find things to be grateful for, you need to find things to be grateful for. In other words, you need to commit to making gratitude a part of your daily life. It's a little like brushing your teeth. You have to do it every day,

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