Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne was absolutely right. We don’t need to wait a single moment to improve the world… or to improve ourselves. When it comes to starting a gratitude practice, if we expect the “perfect moment” to show up, you can bet it will never happen. Life gets in the way. We create more excuses. Our goals keep piling up, and gratitude keeps getting shoved to the back burner.
So forget about waiting for the perfect moment to begin, because that moment is NOW…
One quick and easy way to get started on a gratitude practice is to make a habit of noticing your blessings both morning and night. You don’t even have to write them down, as in a gratitude journal, if that seems too overwhelming. Just taking a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed is enough to begin cementing this new practice into your routine. Before long, you’ll be easily noticing that blessings are all around you.
In January, countless people will make the same resolution they’ve made for the past five years: lose 20 pounds. They’ll try to do it by the latest extreme dieting fad, or think they’re suddenly going to start showing up at the gym at 4am, when they haven’t worked out once in the past 5 years. The truth is, 90% of them will quit by Valentine’s Day.
Easing into any habit is usually the best approach. By making this new gratitude practice easier on yourself, you’ll be more inclined to continue moving forward. So, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to come up with grand examples of gratitude when you’re just starting out. Just appreciating the bed where you’re starting and ending the day can be something to add to your initial list. Sometimes merely recognizing a tiny blessing can have a significant impact.
A helpful method for remembering your new gratitude habit is to add it on to your existing routine. Whatever you usually do in the morning and night, be sure to include a few minutes to think of what makes you feel fortunate. For example, if you have tea every morning, this would be a good connection to make. Sitting down to tea will soon become a reminder to contemplate on your three things.
If you find yourself forgetting to do it or skipping out on your new task, add some visual cues to your environment. Post-it notes are great for this. Stick one on your nightstand. Add another to your bathroom mirror. Technology comes in handy for reminders, as well. Set the alarm on your phone so that you don’t leave the house or fall asleep without taking time to consider what makes you feel thankful.
You can also try the opposite. Turn complaints around into something positive. Maybe you wake up with a sore back and don’t want to get out of bed. It may seem obvious, but reminding yourself that you’re in overall good health and that you have a safe place to sleep can do wonders for your outlook. Try to find the silver lining. It really works.
A good habit can be jotting things down during the day as they happen. It only takes a few seconds to make a note of what you feel grateful for in that moment. You can reflect on it later during your quiet bedtime routine.
Hopefully, you now see how getting into the habit of recognizing the good things in life really isn’t all that difficult. A few small changes to your routine, and you’ll find it’s actually quite easy to implement this practice.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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