Let’s make a resolution to find gratitude attitude. This year’s holiday season promises a whole new set of challenges. Instead of thinking about the uncertainty, disappointment and challenging social unrest of 2020, finding a new gratitude attitude can go a long way.
One proven antidote to challenging times is cultivating a posture of gratitude. As contradictory as that sounds, when you’re feeling beleaguered, looking for, cultivating, and naming specific things for which we are grateful, goes a long way to helping us navigate and mitigate even these uniquely tough times.
Gratitude has a positive impact on everything from strengthening your friendships and relationships, to improving your physical and psychological health, to the quality of your sleep, and your sense of happiness and life satisfaction.
Gratitude also reduces the tendency to be aggressive and seek revenge while building a deeper capacity for empathy. Gratitude grows self-esteem and allows you to more genuinely celebrate other people’s successes. Those with an attitude of gratitude show enhanced resilience, which allows for bouncing back more easily from challenges and hard times, a quality we all could use a little bit more of these days.
Tools to Bolster the Gratitude Attitude
Here are some ideas to help you build your gratitude muscle. This holiday season, start a new personal or family tradition that brings gratitude front and center, and which can be practiced and shared throughout the year.
- Have a thank-you-note-writing party on your own or with your bubble of family or friends or via Zoom! Bring out (or make!) stationary and write thank you notes! Think here: personalized cards to relatives, teachers, friends, your mail carrier, babysitter, and more. Be specific in your thank you, how that person helped you, brightened your day, or encouraged you in a particular way. Email also works!
- Try a five-minute meditation on gratitude and acceptance. There are many resources online or through apps that teach and offer guidance for those newer to meditation. A short time of being seated comfortably, breathing deeply, and then naming, aloud or to yourself, things for which you are grateful, is a simple yet powerful way to start or end your day. A time of stretching or a gentle walking meditation where you focus on your breathing and do the same, also work.
- Create a gratitude jar or box and decorate if you like. Keep a small pad and paper nearby and fill the jar with grateful sentiments you experience during the day. If you have children at home, bring them in on this one. Modeling gratitude helps our children adopt this posture early which brings the same benefits mentioned above and creates a lifelong posture of gratitude. Once a week during dinner or another family time, each person can choose one slip of paper to read. No need to identify the writer. Or try to guess the writer. On a day you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, even a glance at your container can lift your spirits.
- Keep a gratitude journal daily or weekly to highlight things, large and small, for which you are grateful. This helps you pay closer attention to the details of your life. When we tune our focus to gratitude we find hidden surprises that are otherwise hidden.
- Surprise a loved one with a home-cooked meal or baked offering with a thank you note tucked in. Sharing the warmth and love from your kitchen is a beautiful, often quite appreciated way to express your gratitude.
As you begin to flex your gratitude muscle, like most anything you decide to pay attention to, it becomes stronger. Gratitude becomes a powerful experience that can shift your perspective, help you become more open to joy and connection to people in your life, and can quiet some of your more overwhelming feelings. And remember, it’s just fine to repeat the same things you are grateful for each day, too. Often, it’s the very basics of our day-to-day lives, where taking time to notice, finding and naming gratitude has the most power to transform.
This article is sponsored by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
Dr. Rothenberg is a contributor to INM and practicing licensed naturopathic doctor in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dr. Rothenberg is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg's writing can be found on NaturalMed.org, Better Nutrition's Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, and The Huff Post. She is the proud mother of 3 adult children.