Make Everyday Thanksgiving With These 3 Tips for Cultivating Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. We often use this day to spend time with those we love, and to show appreciation for what we have.    However, after all the turkey is eaten and we return to our normal lives, many of us revisit feelings of dissatisfaction with our careers, relationships, and life circumstances.   These negative feelings can steal our motivation, make us feel constrained, and limit our ability to make positive change in our lives.  The key to getting where we want in life is recognizing that the world is abundant with opportunities, and the best way to achieve this mindset is by recognizing the abundance that you already have through cultivation of gratitude. 

Complaining is draining, but gratitude is empowering.  Cultivating gratitude causes us to look at events in our lives as opportunities, instead of as risks.   Gratitude increases our confidence, while negativity and doubt decreases it.   So how can we cultivate more gratitude in our daily lives?  Here’s three things that have worked for me:

Create a Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a great way to cultivate positivity.  Good health, having a warm home, and having a strong support system are often things people take for granted.   However, these are all things to be thankful for as there are millions of people who do not possess them.   In addition to writing about what you’re thankful for, write about things that went well during the previous day and your positive expectations for the upcoming day.   If something you perceive to be as negative happened, write about the lessons you learned from it and how it made you a better person.  After all, there’s always a silver lining in any situation.  Many people have conditioned their minds to look for negativity and imperfection.   Only focusing on the positive causes a mental shift toward searching for positivity. I recommend journaling twice daily, once in the morning after waking up and once in the evening before going to bed.

Downward Comparisons

Comparing ourselves to those that we perceive to be doing better than us creates a sense of lack.  It causes us to desire what they have, and to become discontent with what we have.   However, you have to recognize that there are plenty of people who would love to have your life!  There are millions of people living in third world countries battling disease and famine.  There are also millions of homeless people in western cities across the world.   Most of these individuals would trade places with you in an instant!   The recognition that we could be in worse circumstances helps us appreciate what we currently have.  Our homes, jobs, and cars are not promised to us and should be cherished, because all it takes is a string of bad luck to lose it all. 

Do a Resource Inventory

Many of us make excuses for why we can’t make positive change in our lives.  Typically, we blame not having enough money, or not being in the right circumstances.  However, many of us have a lot more resources than we realize.  On a piece of paper, write your goals and then write a column that says “people”,  “material resources”,  “talents & skills”, and “tools”.   Then, think about every person, possession, talent, and tool that you have that can aid you in accomplishing your goals.   More often than not, you’ll realize you’re better equipped to tackle your goals than you initially realized.  This exercise will also increase your sense of gratitude and abundance. 

Those were just a few techniques I use to cultivate my attitude of gratitude. What’s yours?