Gratitude: Start the Year Off Thankful

As a society, we have so much for which to be thankful. Yet, too often, it seems to be “cooler” to express our dissatisfaction rather than focusing on all that is good in the world. And despite daily news reports of terrorism, riots, violence, and destruction, there is much good in the world. I can’t help but wonder, if we focused more on the good, could we swing the pendulum the other way? Anything is possible, right? But it begins with each individual.

As we start a new year, and therefore, a new chapter, consider finding ways to be thankful every day. There are 365 days of opportunities that await you and you certainly don’t need to wait until the fourth Thursday in November to express it.

Benefits of gratitude include:

  1. Reduced stress.
  2. An emphasis on your priorities.
  3. A better perspective on your life and where you are going.
  4. Self-awareness.
  5. A reduction in “sweating the small stuff.”
  6. An ongoing attitude adjustment.

A gratitude journal is a great way to document your thankfulness and reflect on it through the year. Whether you want to start the day off reflecting on all you have to be thankful for, or wait until the end to reflect on the day’s events, a gratitude journal only requires a few things:

  • A notebook and pen, OR, if you’re a digital person, a note app on your tablet or smart phone.
  • 15 minutes.

I get it – we’re all busy and adding one more thing to our to-do list can feel daunting. If journaling isn’t for you, there are still other ways to document your gratitude. Most everyone is on social media these days. What if you challenged yourself to post a “thankful” post every day throughout the year? Inspire your friends to do the same.

What if you made it a family affair, and during dinner, everyone in your family went around the table and expressed thanks for something that happened during the day? Even if your family is on the go – there are opportunities to discuss things we’re thankful for during our commutes.

William A. Ward once said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’” When you look at it from that perspective, it does seem silly to use lack of time as a reason not to take a few moments to be thankful.

Whether it’s one thing you identify or ten each day, challenge yourself to find at least one thing a day. Some basics include food, clothing, shelter, friends, family, jobs, health, cars, pets and more.

Taking it a step further, perhaps: A friend who listened. The opportunity to visit someone. A local non-profit group who is making a difference. The US Postal service who delivered that check you were waiting for. A thank you to the stranger who offered to put your buggy away at the grocery store.

Maybe you can even discover things to be thankful for that you’d never considered: A thank you to the police officer who wrote you a ticket. While you’re not thrilled over the fine, you realize that stopping you may have kept you from getting hurt. Or a thank you for the interruption in your internet so that you could spend an unexpected hour talking to your family instead of just watching television.

The opportunities to be grateful are endless. We just need to put on our “thanking” caps and find them.