Do you have a regularly practice genuine gratitude?
Listen. There’s no need to even pretend that 2020 has been a good year. While there have certainly been reasons to celebrate throughout, overwhelmingly the sentiments of the year have been stress, worry and unease.
The world experienced its first global pandemic in 50+ years. Unemployment across the world skyrocketed. We lost so many good people due to disease and natural causes (our friends and family members and well known individuals who gave their gifts to humanity like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kobe Bryant, John Lewis, Regis Philbin, Jerry Stiller, Kenny Rogers).
Not to mention the day to day challenges that each of us have had to and continue to endure.
But even with all of this weighing on our shoulders, there are things to be grateful for.
Too often, people wait until exactly this time of year – during the U.S. Thanksgiving and world wide Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa holidays – to practice gratitude. And even then, it is merely a cursory exercise.
But this year, with everything that has occurred, it feels particularly important to pause, reflect, and sincerely acknowledge the things we often take for granted but for which we are exceptionally grateful.
What Are You Grateful For?
As you contemplate the question, really challenge yourself to dig deep. Don’t just latch on to the first thing that pops into your mind. And don’t feel compelled to limit yourself to only one answer.
We are multidimensional beings, so push yourself to consider all aspects of your life – what are you grateful for in your personal life? Your work life? Your family life? Your spiritual life? What things or people have brought you joy even during your worst moments? What accomplishments are you most proud of this year?
Exercise: Write your answer(s) down. Let it sit for a while. And come back to it in a few hours or after a day to make sure it still resonates with you. If it doesn’t, change it. Repeat this as often as you need to.
Once you have your final “2020 Gratitude List”, I challenge you to:
- Reach out in person, by phone, or via video call to each person on your “Gratitude List”. Tell them why you are calling (explain the exercise), that they are on your list and why (remind them of how they contributed to your life), and say “Thank you”.
2. For each “thing” on your list (ie, event, community, etc.), dedicate a single day’s morning affirmation by saying out loud:
“ Even when things seem at their darkest, light can be found. As I look back on 2020, I appreciate ___(insert item)__ because __(insert reason)___. I am grateful.”
It can be too easy to focus only on the bad experiences in life. We tend to give those things too much of our energy.
But the practices mentioned above help us pause and acknowledge the positivity we’ve experienced as well as honor those people and things that have contributed goodness to our journey.
Regularly practicing gratitude can also increase overall wellbeing.
My sincere wish for you as you move forward is that you experience gratitude in abundance, and that you practice it daily.
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- How to Practice Gratitude (July 2020), by the Holistic Psychologist
- How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (June 2017) by Joshua Brown, PhD and Joel Wong, PhD