The magic of gratitude
JULIE CHASE | DECEMBER 9, 2020
I planned on writing this article the week of Thanksgiving, but got a cold and didn’t feel well. I remember feeling frustrated and guilty as I lay on the couch. But then I took a few deep breaths and shifted my thinking. My calendar had been packed the past few weeks and this was the first time I had a break from meetings. My body was telling me to slow down and practice self care. As soon as I realized this, I felt grateful for having this awareness and for the time and space to relax and unwind.
And then something amazing happened — I enjoyed the rest of the day. I caught up on some reading, watched TV, took a bath and went to bed early. It turned out to be a near perfect day (despite the sniffles).
Gratitude has the power to transform any challenging situation or negative feeling. Once you feel grateful, you feel better. You feel love, hope and happiness. It’s really quite magical.
Gratitude also helps build resiliency. After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve seen one clear trend. The people who are thankful for every informational, interview and offer often have a straightforward journey to a dream job. They appreciate having an opportunity to learn new ways and build new skills. They achieve success with speed and ease.
Like most things, gratitude is a practice. If you don’t do it regularly, you miss out on opportunities to feel better and enjoy life even more. So I’m sharing some ideas on how to build a gratitude practice — in just a few minutes.
Building a daily gratitude practice
- Write or say 5 things you’re grateful for every morning and/or evening. I have a small journal that I keep on my desk and start my workday by writing down what I’m most grateful for in that moment and always include something about myself.
- Start each meal with one thing you’re grateful for and ask your family members to share as well. Mix it up with big and small things and include lessons learned from a mistake or disappointment. This is a good time to role model courage, vulnerability and imperfection in a positive light.
- Pay someone a compliment. Let a family member, friend or colleague know that they’re wonderful. Be specific about what you appreciate about them — whether it’s a special quality or something nice they’ve done.
- Change “I have to” to “I get to.” Every time you say or think “I have to,” change it to “I get to.” This is a simple exercise, but it’ll uplift your feelings. For example, if I think “I get to cook now,” it makes me think about how lucky I am to have fresh food at my disposal, how delicious it will taste and how healthy it is for me. I instantly feel incredibly fortunate.
- Write a list of 100+ things you’re grateful for (or set time for 10 minutes). Do a free flowing braindump and when you get stuck, just write “I’m thankful for” over and over until you think of something else. You can also focus on specific topics, especially the most stressful ones at the moment like your family or your job.
- Listen to a meditation, podcast or audiobook on gratitude. Search for a Ted Talk or a video that has a description that resonates with you. Share it with your friends and family.
- Send a thank you note to someone who’s made a difference in your life. Let them know how they influenced and inspired you to make a pivotal decision or how they helped you overcome a difficult situation. Share your love and appreciation.
- Reframe a negative or challenging story. When you have a complaint or a story where you’re the victim, identify the silver linings. Maybe you learned something new about yourself, became stronger or determined better strategies for handling difficult situations. If you can appreciate the experience for helping you become the person you are today, you’ll feel more empowered and resilient.
Whatever activity you decide to do, do it at the same time every day. Consistency helps cement the habit. After a month or so, you won’t have to think about it, it’ll just be part of your daily routine.
Let me know how your gratitude practice has affected your perspective, thinking and emotional state. I’d love to hear from you!
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