Family, Self

5 SUPER Easy Ways To Be Thankful Even When Life Is Kicking Your Butt

Photo: WeHeartIt

In the lead up to Thanksgiving, you may be thinking about the people, things, experiences, and conditions of your life that you like and appreciate, but are coming up with very little. As people all over the world — from Paris to Beirut and beyond — are mourning loved ones lost in terrorist attacks, it's not so easy to bliss out in appreciation.

As you struggle with the tension in your marriage, the lack of funds in your bank account, the aches and pains in your body, or anything else that's been piling up in your life, it's not simple or easy to gush gratitude. This, however, is exactly what's needed right now.

When the world feels scary and your personal life is far from what you want it to be, that's exactly the time to intentionally and consciously cultivate a gratitude practice.  

It's called a"practice" because it can take time to feel natural about it. Being grateful each day — not just on Thanksgiving — it betters your life, your relationship, and your world.  

Regardless of what's going on within and around you, start today with these 5 gratitude techniques:  
1. Give thanks the "right" way

Let go the belief that you "should" be grateful, and stop thinking that "many people have it worse off than you." This approach to gratitude never works, and it usually takes you farther away from where you need to be. It definitely won't help you feel happier – instead it may increase your worries and fears.
Step one to any sustainable gratitude practice is to find your own "right" way to give thanks. Be willing to experiment with different ways to feel and express your gratitude and pay attention to how you feel as you do. When you experience moments that are fulfilling, expansive, and that bring you a sense of peace, keep doing gratitude just like that.   

2. Make gratitude an everyday habit

Remember, this is a process! Be patient as you cultivate gratitude and set aside some time every day for giving thanks. This is as simple as pausing to notice something (or someone) who makes you smile as you go through your daily routine.

It could be a ritual of mentally listing off what you're thankful for first thing in the morning or last thing before you go to sleep at night. Include words of gratitude in your prayers or affirmations, according to your religious or spiritual beliefs. 

Thankfulness can also come through in casual conversations you have with friends and family or be written down in a private journal. It matters less how you do gratitude and more that you do it regularly and that it feels natural.  

3. Start with something easy

Getting gratitude to feel natural when your life and world seem to be an unending series of set-backs, disappointments, and obstacles is the challenge. Always start right where you are — literally, right where you are.   
When giving thanks feels hard or impossible, take three deep breaths and then look around you. Keep looking until you find something you genuinely feel grateful for. Maybe it's the wagging of your dog's tail when you walk in the door, the flower that grows up through the crack in the sidewalk, the stranger who smiles at you on the street, or anything else that somehow (even in a very small way) lightens and brightens your day.  

4. Be grateful for your small improvements

As you become more and more adept at noticing the people and things that you are thankful for, acknowledge improvements. This is a HUGE gratitude-builder! Whether it's your partner admitting to feeling angry (instead of withdrawing) or you making it to the gym when you're stressed out (rather than downing a bag of chips), even if it's not every time, notice what's on the road to getting better and feel thankful for that positive movement. 

5. Spread your gratitude around

The really cool thing about establishing a gratitude practice is that it gets easier the more you do it. What you'll likely find is that you experience more to feel grateful for too! Communicate your thanks to your partner and everyone else you know. 

A simple thanks goes a long way as does a note of appreciation or a gesture that conveys how you feel. The important thing is that you show – through your words and your actions — that you're grateful. That's what nourishes you and what keeps your relationship alive.

Expressing gratitude – sincerely and specifically – is one powerful way to create a close, connected, and passionate love relationship or marriage. 

If you're looking for more ideas to make your relationship amazing, check out our free Keep the Spark Alive e-book.