It’s impossible to be sad when you are busy feeling pure gratitude. But we know it’s not always easy to be grateful when it seems like life around you is crumbling. In fact, it’s much easier to default to blame, resentment, and resignation, and dwell on all that is going less than perfect in your life. That’s why we’re trying to turn things around with a daily gratitude practice you can try all day, every day, to keep you saying “thank you” to yourself and your surroundings instead of “WTF.”
Taking breathing for granted is pretty easy 110% of the time. It’s involuntary; we can’t help but do it every second of our lives. And yet, we can manipulate it. Our breath can show us just how stressed we are, or how calm. We can use our breath to cleanse our bodies and our minds. Oxygen-rich breaths fill our chest, expanding our hearts and bringing energy and nutrients rushing to our brains. We would literally die without it. Take a few nourishing, deep breaths, holding on the inhale as well as the exhale for just a few seconds to remind us of its power—our power—and feel the gratitude rush in with it.
Sometimes we feel the weight of the world on our backs, less than figuratively. Try not to stoop over, slouched and cowering under the weight of the stress. Sit up straight, and thank your shoulders. Thank them for carrying all your tension, and let yourself release it. Give yourself a massage or roll out on a foam roller or tennis ball, whatever you have.
You might not be living in your dream cottage surrounded by a flourishing garden or a mountain stream, but there are bits of nature that seep into our lives voluntarily or not. Studies show that exposure to nature and greenery makes us happy, so let’s be grateful for whatever green we have in sight. Maybe it’s a houseplant. Maybe it’s a tree outside your window. Say thank you, and mean it.
Sometimes we live so much in the past as well as the hypothetical future, that we forget about the right now. Instead of living in regret of things once said or done, thank them. The pain is gone, but the lessons learned are unforgettable. They are a form of wealth and growth. Say your thanks to them, and get present.
While some of us might be thinking, “well, duh,” others are thinking something more like “not in a million years,” and both are correct. Whether it’s your given family or you chosen family, the ones you hold dearest are what matters. Think of specific moments that your relationship with someone has meant something to you, and cherish the selflessness that it required. Maybe text that person and tell them you love them or appreciate them. Your gratitude will be reciprocated here.
We spend most of our time thinking about what we are going to say, how we are going to communicate it, and when we are going to slip it in so it gets the most airtime with the people around us. Sometimes we forget the power of lending an ear. Really listen to friends and loved ones when they speak, and detect more than just words. Think of nuanced feelings and how their expressions of thought came to be. You’ll be grateful to yourself for the new level of connectedness you can achieve from listening truly.
For most of us, it’s hard to look in the mirror and feel completely satisfied. In fact, even those with bodies and figures we idolize rarely look in the mirror naked and think, “Yep, all perfection here. No changes needed; I’m completely thrilled with everything going on here.” And yet, every little self-proclaimed or societally marketed imperfection is meaningless in the scheme of the universe. Thank your body for digesting food to nourish your cells. Thank it for resting and rising each night and day. Thank it for the pain it experiences when something possibly threatening is occurring. Thank it for its signals, its organic shape, its movement, and its service. It’s yours for life, after all.
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