When was the last time you said thank you for being alive? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, if you barely have time to appreciate what you have, why do you desire to have anything more?
We all have something to be thankful for, even those who live a modest lifestyle by choice or by circumstance.
- Focusing on material possessions, rather than on the very fact that we’re living and breathing, tend to make us forgetful of the greater gifts, such as our families and our health.
Life is a miracle and can be taken away at a moment’s notice. This is something that many people do not think about every day, only with the sudden loss of a loved one. Each and every day is another chance to get it right. Every day is an opportunity to take action on your goals, to express your love and appreciation for your friends and family, to make a difference in someone’s life.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there are many ways you can show your appreciation for your life.
5 Ways to Express Your Gratitude
Sometimes showing your gratitude can be as simple as saying “thanks,” but other times you can show gratitude by helping others, or “paying it forward.” After all, you’ll never know how a simple, kind gesture will affect someone’s day.
Here are some ideas to help you appreciate life while also helping others:
- Reach out to your extended family and friends. Send them cards just to say “Hi,” call or email them, or even throw a party to reconnect and show these people they’re important to you. Something as simple as sending them a photo of something that made you think of them can be heartwarming. As you show appreciation, it is likely to uplift their spirits and then they may even pay it forward. One simple act of thoughtfulness and gratitude can start a chain reaction.
- Reflect on your childhood and ancestors. Write a poem, essay, or short story about your life. What sacrifices did your parents make for you? What struggles did the family endure? How is your life better or easier than that of your great-grandparents? How did these events make you the person you are today? Even if you are not a writer, you can still take some time to think about all that your ancestors went through for you to have the life that you have today. Some of our ancestors went through pure hell so that future generations would not have to live like them. That in itself deserves gratitude. Additionally, this may also serve as a source of extra motivation for achieving your goals. Are you taking full advantage of the rights and benefits that your ancestors fought for? If the answer is no, why not?
- Meditate, pray, or go to your place of worship. Find a quiet place to think about all that’s good – your health, family, or home – and simply say “thank you” to your Creator. Meditation is by far my favorite way to practice gratitude. As I mentioned in my previous blog post “12 Super Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude” the feeling that I get from meditating on the things I am grateful for is such an overwhelmingly amazing feeling. If you have never tried it, I urge you to give a chance. It is definitely worth 10 to 15 minutes of your time.
- Reconnect with your spouse and children. Actions speak louder than words so turn off that television and spend some quality time with your family just to have some fun! Whether it’s a surprise getaway or a family game night, renewing your relationships with your family will strengthen your bond and bring you closer together. It seems like this is easily forgotten in today’s society where everyone is always staring at their phones or some other sort of electronic device. Set aside some time for human interaction with those you love most. You will be grateful that you did.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down all the things you’re grateful for in your life and reflect on all that is good. Even the simplest things – such as finding a parking space at the mall or locating your missing keys – are times to be grateful! Once you start tracking things you are grateful for, you will start to look for more things to write down in your gratitude journal, which will, in turn, change your perspective of events in your life. If you are interested in starting a gratitude practice and don’t yet have a gratitude journal, you can download my FREE Gratitude Worksheet here. All you need is a few minutes each day to write down at least 3 things that you are grateful for each day. It is a simple way to get started and you can grow your practice from there.
When You Need a Wake-Up Call
Sometimes it’s all too easy to engage in these activities and give thanks for a good life, yet over time, we somehow fall back into our old habits. In these times, we need a jolt to remind ourselves of all that is good.
- Spend a few hours a week volunteering at a hospital, nursing home, or soup kitchen. The key here is to volunteer your time. This will allow you to take a good look at the people you’re helping, listen to their stories, and be grateful that you’re fortunate enough to help those in need. Being in a position to help others is a blessing and one that many take for granted.
- Open your gratitude journal and re-read what you wrote down. It is inevitable, you will have a rough day. When you are having a rough day/week/month/year, maintaining a gratitude practice may seem impossibly difficult or even pointless. It is in these times that your gratitude practice is most important. Re-read what you wrote down. Not only will it remind you of what you have to be grateful for, it may also trigger those same feelings of gratitude that you had when you initially wrote them down.
Giving IS Receiving
When you give of yourself – either with a smile or another kind gesture – you receive the warm satisfaction of helping to make a difference in the world, one person at a time. Your uplifting attitude will be contagious and you just might be the recipient of a random act of kindness!