“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
— Oprah Winfrey
It’s that time of year again when the next celebration is always around the corner. It sounds merry, but it can be downright stressful. Instead of feeling joy, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and overscheduled.
Turning to gratitude at the core of celebration can help us get back to that joy we seek. And practicing gratitude with your family is easy — even in this busy time of year.
Here are five strategies that have helped my family practice gratitude each day.
1. Write down three things that you are grateful for.
Document at least three things each day, and you’ll develop an appreciative mindset throughout the day.
Include food in your gratitude notes, too — your morning smoothie or the new farm you found on a weekend adventure. Say you gave up gluten for a week and then had a piece of bread and got foggy. Don’t sweat the bread! Have gratitude for the clue it gave you. Find the good.
Watch as this practice begins to shift your ability to be a great mom or dad, wife or husband, or partner, friend, worker and wellness warrior each day.
2. Share your Thorn and Rose at the dinner table.
The dinner table offers a safe time and place to share stories, worries, accomplishments and desires. The mood is more relaxed than the morning rush or the ride home from school. You can hear what’s really going on by sharing Thorns and Roses. Each person at the table shares something they are grateful for (a rose) and one concern (a thorn) that happened in their day.
In our house, Thorns and Roses has become “The Happy Sandwich,” where an unhappy event or an upcoming concern is “sandwiched” between two happy experiences — one that has already happened, and one that is anticipated. Ending on a high note closes each person’s sharing with good energy and a sense of hopefulness. (Don’t forget to share your Thorns and Roses, too!)
3. Try a meditation practice.
Take 10 minutes a day to quiet your mind. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in how you experience the present moment. When you’re really present, it’s hard not to be grateful. Use 10 minutes in the car while you wait for a child to finish an activity, 10 minutes in the morning before you get out of bed or that dead time between appointments to meditate. Meditation apps can guide you through 10 minutes to make it even easier.
4. Pause before eating.
Start each meal with gratitude. Some families have a tradition of saying grace at the table. You don’t have to be religious for this to resonate. You can just simply say “thank you” to Earth, to the farmers and to the people who sell the food you are eating together.
When you begin to say “thank you,” you notice how many people are responsible for the food getting to your table — mom or dad, store clerks, grocers, farmers, pickers, truck drivers — everyone who made it possible for you to be fed today. It’s powerful to express gratitude for each one of them.
5. Say “thank you” for everything.
Try to say “thank you” for everything — the person at the checkout, the kid who throws the ball from the street into your yard, your spouse for taking out the trash, your kids for clearing the table. This is not praise. It is a simple “thank you” that reminds you how amazing the world is while making the person feel good, too. If someone honks, just try saying “thank you.”
As we move into a season of hustle and bustle and sometimes forced cheer, slow down for a moment to notice and meditate, to say “thank you,” to acknowledge the good and the challenges in your life. As you tap into gratitude, you’ll be surprised how it ripples out, bringing greater joy and satisfaction.