Cultivating Gratitude All Year Long
It’s officially November which means the holiday season is upon us (does anyone else get giddy around this time of year? I love it!) It also means that Thanksgiving is a few weeks away and I’d say that most of us are feeling grateful. I know that I always feel more grateful in November as Thanksgiving approaches. Earlier I had the thought, what if I was able to cultivate gratitude that lasted all year long, instead of just for a few weeks in November? I know that grateful people are less likely to complain and more likely to enjoy life and find joy in the hard times. I want to be like that.
But how can I cultivate gratitude?
First, I had to remind myself what the word ‘cultivate’ means. The first definition says prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening. and the second says to try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill). I know that I want to acquire the skill of gratitude because I really think it is a skill as well as a quality. Plus, I’ll be preparing my mind and my heart future gratitude. So it sort of fits in both definitions.
Great, now I know what it means to cultivate something, but how do I do I cultivate gratitude? I decided that this was something that I couldn’t think of on my own so I asked you on Instagram (and Facebook and Twitter), how you cultivate gratitude, or how you practice gratefulness in your life. This is what you said:
- “Everyday I write down at least one thing I am grateful for.” – Nathan
- “This month I’m making a point to actually write down “Today I’m grateful for…. I’m grateful for..” instead of just making a list. This goes in my journal each night. I’m also doing Courtney Casper’s Find Gratitude study!” – Racquel
- “Good question. Feeling thankful isn’t difficult. I just have to look at what I have and I’m thankful. Expressing gratitude is another story. I can pray and thank my Heavenly Father for everything I’ve been blessed with, both big and small. But that hardly feels adequate. He knows my feelings and, therefore, knows how grateful I am, but that’s still not enough. So I try to give and help others when and where I can. “Because I have been given much, I too must give.” – Adam
- “Before bed, [my husband] and I say three things we were grateful for that day. Some days our list consists of “being in bed, this pillow, and going to sleep” 😂 but it’s nice to reflect and hear your spouse’s reflection too.” – Kalie
Other ways to cultivate gratitude:
One way I’ve been more grateful this past year is by sending a daily text each night to my sister with something I’m grateful for. We started this sometime in 2017 and are still going strong. Even on days when it’s hard to find something to be grateful for, we always send a text with something from the day that we’re thankful for. This has helped me so much, especially on those hard days when I think “there is nothing I’m grateful for today” but that isn’t true. There has always been something. Von’s smile, a yummy dinner, a good show on tv. These texts remind me every day that there is always something to be grateful for, big and small.
Once upon a time on my old blog, I shared Thankful Thursday posts where I’d talk about the things I was thankful for during the past week. This was a great way for me to think about it, but it was also pretty public.
If you prefer a more private practice of gratitude you can always grab a notebook and start by writing one (JUST ONE!) thing that you’re grateful for each day. Simply begin, that’s what matters. If you struggle with writing it down every day simply reflect at the end of each day and think about the things or thing you’re grateful for that day! It will make a huge impact on your life.
Our gratitude will grow as we practice being grateful.
Over the past year as I’ve thought about how I can practice and cultivate gratitude I’ve realized that the more grateful I am, the better I feel. It really is something that is so so simple that can make the biggest difference in your life. I haven’t stopped complaining (that’s still a work in progress) but I definitely notice the little things more.
When I was on my mission I wrote in my journal every single night (maybe someday I’ll be that good again.) But every night as I reflected on my day I would try to see the tender mercies that had happened in our day. I wrote about how I saw God’s hand or simply about the little things I was grateful for. Doing this always helped me feel better, especially after those long hard days, and that’s something I want to feel more now.
How do you practice gratitude? What are some other ideas to help cultivate gratitude in your life? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!