I know today is Halloween, but I'm already looking ahead to November, a month when we focus on family, food and, for some of us, on growing ugly mustaches. It's also a great time to reflect on all of the good things in our lives.
Between all of the daily posts on social media, and the multitude of videos, articles, and books on the subject, it's easy to feel like gratitude is just another trend, unworthy of your time and attention. This can be especially true if you're feeling like some of your "friends" on Facebook are using the posts to humbly brag on their own lives and accomplishment (#blessed). However, there are many scientifically proven benefits to practicing gratitude that range from improving sleep to helping build relationships.
Even though I've read all of the research and know how helpful it is, I've always had a really tough time keeping up with a gratitude journal. It just feels too much like work to me.That's why I decided to search for other ways to practice gratitude.
Take a look at seven ways to help you feel more grateful and balanced during this stressful, holiday season, without writing a single journal entry.
1.Meditate-Most of us don't take time in our day to self-reflect. We're so busy rushing from one task to the next, that we never stop to just be still. I recommend adding at least five minutes of meditation to each day. I love the Insight Timer app, which has dozens of guided meditations on the theme of gratitude. Taking just a few minutes to quiet our overworked brains can be so powerful!
2. Take a Pic-This idea came to me this morning, as I was rushing to take my big kids to school. I was not in a great mood as it was 7 am and I was awake, but when I pulled out of our driveway I saw the an almost full moon in the middle of a beautiful pink and orange sky. The beauty of that moment hit me with a wave of gratitude. If you have trouble coming up with gratitude lists after a long day, take pictures instead. If you can capture some of those grateful moments, it makes reflecting on them much easier.
3. Start a Gratitude Jar- Skip the pressure of the daily journal entry by keeping a gratitude jar this November. Add something to it whenever the mood strikes. Everyone in your family who is old enough to talk can contribute something to the jar. It could also be a way for family members to say thank you for the kind things you do for one another.
4. Play the Grateful Game- This idea, from Teach Beside Me, is another great way for the whole family to practice gratitude. If you played the game Pick Up Sticks as a kid, this is the same concept, except, when you pick up a stick, you have to say something you're thankful for that matches that colored stick's category. For example, if you pick up a red stick you have to name a person you're thankful for, green sticks mean you need to share a food that you're thankful for, and so on. If you can't find the game, make your own with colored straws.