Inside our busy lives, we may forget to notice all the precious gifts we are given each day. By developing an attitude of gratitude, we not only enhance the positivity in our lives, but we also strengthen our connection to our Creator.
Say Thank You
To develop an attitude of gratitude, it’s a good idea to “up” your thank you quota. This should be done in two ways; both in quantity and quality. To become a master gratituder, you should look for opportunities to say thank you. This can mean at the supermarket, in the bank, or on a service call. However, it can also mean by looking for areas you might normally take for granted. If your husband offers to help put the kids to sleep, while it might be his “job” too, say thank you. If your parents always call to say Good Shabbos, say thank you. If a neighbor hosts a class in their home that you attend regularly, say thank you. If you feel silly, remember that it’s not about the one receiving the thank you, its about the one giving it. Quantity, however, is only one way to enhance your gratitude. Quality is another. When you say thank you to the person bagging your groceries in the supermarket, how much are you really thinking about what you are saying? Dwell on the fact that without their help, the process would take much longer and you would be doing more work on your own. After taking it to heart, then say thank you. Not only will it be more genuine, but you gratitude attitude will double.
Schedule Gratitude Moments
To avoid the phenomenon of getting swept up in life without taking time to “smell the roses,” begin setting a timer on your phone. Have it go off twice a day and in that moment think of all the things you are grateful for. Make it specific to that moment. Many times we make sweeping statements of our gratitude, pertaining to things like family, health, etc. While these things are important, we forget to recognize the immediate gifts in our lives. By taking a minute or two throughout the day to express your gratitude, you tap into a deep and more present sensation of what you are grateful for in the moment. It might be that you are driving safely or that you are on time. It may be that you are eating and becoming nourished for the day. Whatever it is, these scheduled gratitude moments help you to find the positives in your life in the present moment.
Avoid Complaining or Passing Judgement
This might be an obvious one, but when we complain or pass judgment we are allowing ourselves to internalize the negative. Instead of seeing the wonderful gifts in our lives, we are dwelling in the mucky, ugly reality of that which we don’t like. In doing so, we are developing an attitude opposite of gratitude. The more we complain, the more
we bring that reality into sight. It is nearly impossible to be both grateful for the gifts in our lives while at the same time finding everything that’s wrong. In order to be more grateful, we have to turn off the complaint switch and tap into our well of positivity. When we do so, we realize all the good that surrounds us and become overwhelmed with gratitude.
Write in a Gratitude Journal
One of the stand-by methods for promoting gratitude is to use a Gratitude Journal. Each night, before bed think of all the events of your day and look for everything you can thank Hashem for. Be as specific as possible. By actually writing down what we’re grateful for, we accomplish two things. We create a structure to our gratefulness work, by making it something we do each night, but also we internalize the feeling of gratitude by writing it down. Just like when studying for a test, writing notes promotes our memory, by writing out what we are grateful for we remember longer and intensify our understanding!
Get a “Gratitude Partner”
Sort of like the buddy system from our earlier days, your less likely to “ get lost” or in this case, go off track, when you have a buddy looking out for you. If tackling the challenge of gratitude seems like a difficult task, look for a partner, someone who also wants to work on gratitude. Check in with each other and ask if they filled in their gratitude journals that day, kept to their gratitude moments, and said authentic thank yous. When you have a partner, you are more likely to stick to your plan. And when it’s all said and done, don’t forget to thank them too!
Article originally printed in FYI Magazine.