How To Be Grateful

 How to be(3)

I love November, and not just because it is my birthday month, (although that does give it a little extra fabulous-ness). November is the month of Thankfulness. People tend to practice being grateful this month–and it is a practice, and grateful people are happy people.

I feel like November is a huge contributor to ‘the holiday spirit’, for this reason. So why restrict our happiness to just one month, when we can be filled with love all year around. It has been my experience that happiness is a choice, and that a few simple actions can make a world of difference in my mood throughout the day.

Here are 5 easy ways to achieve an attitude of gratitude:

1. Make a daily Gratitude List

This is by far one of the most life-changing practices I have adopted. I started doing this each morning, about 7 years ago. I write 10 things, (10 because that number satisfies my OCD-tendencies), I am grateful for each morning. There are no rules here. These can be strictly material things like ‘my car’, ‘my wardrobe’, ‘my makeup brushes’, etc… Or, things like ‘my sweet husband who works hard for us’, ‘my curious daughter’, ‘the health of my loved ones’. It is all about perception here, and I challenge you, even on the hardest of days, to find at least 5 things to be grateful for. Try this for 30 days, and watch your attitude shift.

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2. Help Someone Else

Nothing satisfies the soul like service work. This can come in so many forms. It can be as simple as picking up the phone to call a friend going through a hard time, and merely asking them how they are, and then listening. Or volunteer to help someone move. Or help an old lady cross the street. Or babysit a friends kids for them , so they can have a break. I could go on and on here. If you start to approach your world from this angle, you will find so many ways to be useful and of service, and are guaranteed almost an instant feel-good high, as a result.

3. Do a Random Act of Kindness

Oh man, I love these sooo much. You don’t even know. So to me, a random act of kindness means doing something super nice for someone as anonymously as possible. It is so fun to know you made someone’s day! Some of my favorites have been paying for the order behind me in the drive-through Starbucks line, leaving a nice note on a strangers windshield, buying a homeless person a meal, leaving encouraging notes in the women’s locker room at the gym, washing a new mom’s sink full of dirty dishes. Again, you can get really creative here, and it really does make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Have fun with it!

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4. Affirmations

Ok, so I am about to get all Stuart Smalley up in here, but that guy was on to something. Most people are way harder on themselves than they are on others. Our internal dialogue is not always the nicest, and we say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t dare say to anyone else. I call bulls*%it on this! We deserve better. My solution to this monstrosity is replacing the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. (This wasn’t my idea, but something I have really latched on to).

A good way to begin doing affirmations, is to first be an observer of your thoughts throughout the day. Take a couple of days to write down the negative things you tell yourself, to gain awareness. Once you have a cohesive list, write down the opposite, nice things you can say to yourself instead. Then, put it to practice.

stuartsmalley

5. Find the Solution

Life happens. Things go wrong. People hurt us. Money ebbs and flows. Things are not always going to go our way. I think it is a human tendency, (or maybe a girl tendency), to talk and talk and talk about our problems, and never quite reach the solution. It feels good to complain–sort of. I am certainly guilty of throwing myself a few pity parties over unfortunate situations, but the truth is, that never made matters any better. What I have found useful is to find a solution, and fast.

Talking to 20 different people about the same problem, only makes the problem feel bigger. Talking to one–or a few close friends about the problem, and then looking for a solution provides a sense of relief and a plan of action, which leads to more relief. Focus on the problem, it gets bigger; focus on the solution, that gets bigger.

xo, Emily

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