I don’t know how it’s going for you thus far into the New Year, but are you hanging in there with resolutions? Personally, I don’t like to use the word resolution. This term seems too black and white. Either you resolved to do something or you didn’t. There isn’t much wiggle room and this makes it all the more easy to fail. I prefer goal setting. Why do I prefer goal setting? Goal setting is timeless. You don’t have to wait until the New Year, you can start a goal whenever you want. There also are tangible steps involved and even if you only cross off one or two, you are moving forward. That feels like winning. This helps you stay motivated and keeps you on track.
A goal I set for myself right before the holiday season started, was to incorporate a gratitude practice into my daily life. I made it super easy and chose gratitude because it is innately so rewarding. When I remember to do my gratitude practice it almost always makes me feel better. This makes me actually want to do it. All I do is think of three things I’m grateful for right before I go to sleep and three things as I wake up. The kicker is not to only mentally list them, but to actually FEEL the gratitude behind what I’m listing. It does me very little good to list things by rote as if I’m reading off my grocery list, I have to dig deep to connect these things to my heart. Some days it’s easier than others. If I am having a bad day, I have a no-fail go-to option that I will share with you:
I always feel better when I think about my dog. His capacity for love and unconditional acceptance helps pave the way for me to find other treasured nuggets of gratitude. If you are still stuck for inspiration some ideas are to give thanks for a warm bed to fall asleep in, previous milestone occasions and favorite trips you have taken. I have found that once my mind and heart connect to gratitude, it becomes easier to pick out other things from my day and life that I can appreciate. You will be amazed at how one cherished thought tumbles into another and so on. If you do this practice enough, you are going to find times in your day where you might ‘bookmark’ a special moment as something to add to your list later. This will help you have a gratitude mindset as you go through your day. My gratitude practice has definitely made me more appreciative of my life overall.
It may also be helpful to you to start an actual gratitude journal. I like to keep things simple. Here’s a link to my favorite gratitude journal:
This journal keeps things short and sweet. It has space to list your items in a way that doesn’t feel too overwhelming, has inspirational quotes to keep you going and has a great list of things to be grateful for that you can always reference if you get stuck. I have used it in the past and truly enjoyed the process of it.
I don’t believe a gratitude practice will magically transform your life. Life is always going to have its tough spots and being grateful for the little things doesn’t change that. What gratitude can do is give you a moment of refuge. It can show you that while you may not choose what happens in your life, you can choose where you put your attention. Focusing your attention on the good you already have will give you a chance to connect to the love you have within you. Knowing you have love available to you at all times can help soften the edges of difficult circumstances.
My New Year’s wish for you is that you are kind to yourself, that you are forgiving towards yourself and that you have an abundance of blessings to add to your gratitude list.
As always, I am grateful for you. Thank you for giving my words time and attention. I appreciate you and will be sure to include you on my own gratitude list.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent