The Art of Gratitude: 6 Ways to Find the Silver Linings

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November 28, 2013

This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself to master the art of gratitude.

Life has a way of taking unexpected turns and, through this roller coaster of a journey, we can begin to feel unmotivated and even angry by the challenges we continue to face. While it is reasonable to have an emotional reaction when things go wrong, we can enjoy a much richer life by shifting our thinking to be more positive.

To help you get started, here are a few ways to promote a healthy attitude.

Keep a Journal

It can be easy to dismiss all of the things that go right in our daily lives while we focus on everything that went wrong.  To counteract this tendency, create a ritual of jotting down moments from your day that made you feel grateful. Keep track of the times when things just seemed to fall into place. You will be amazed by how much you take for granted.

Many families create a Thanksgiving journal, where they document special events or thoughts on strips of paper throughout the year. They put the papers in a jar and open it on Thanksgiving day to reread all the amazing things that have happened.

Show Your Appreciation

Let the people in your life know exactly how much they mean to you. Rather than dwelling on disagreements, focus on the positive things that your spouse, kids, family, friends or coworkers do. You may discover that this adjustment influences your relationships for the better.

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

Find a way to make someone else’s day a little better.  Pay for the coffee of the car behind you at the drive-thru. Prepare a meal for an overwhelmed mother. Take the kids and do yard work and housework for their grandparents. Compliment a stranger on their outfit or haircut.  There are a million ways to spread love and kindness the people around you!

Write a Glowing Review

Did you get exceptional service at a restaurant, hotel or store?  Take a moment out of your life to recognize that other person’s efforts.  Ask to speak to the manager and let them know how exceptionally you have been treated. Send an email to commend someone’s excellent customer service. These people work tirelessly (and, often, thanklessly) to serve us, the least we can do and reward them with praise.

Find Unexpected Gifts

There are times in life when things are genuinely terrible and it seems like nothing will ever be good again. It is in those moments when gratitude matters most. Find three positive things that have come out of your negative situation and focus on how that has enriched your life. You cannot change the past but you can control how you move forward.

Be Kind to Yourself

You may be very good at acknowledging the strengths of others but you may neglect to show gratitude for your own actions.  Take some time to recognize the things that you do well every day. It is not vanity. You must love yourself in order to truly love others.

Your family may moan and groan at the suggestion of going around the table to express gratitude this Thanksgiving but, in the end, embracing the spirit of this holiday is worth the effort.

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