With the holidays upon us, we may look forward to enjoying the company of family and friends, good food and time off. Or we may not. Extra shopping, preparation, travel and other additions to our already packed schedules can make the holidays feel stressful. Also, as the days grow shorter and winter approaches, many people feel depressed (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed when we tell ourselves we are supposed to feel cheerful can make it even worse. We feel guilty about feeling sorry for ourselves when we know we should be grateful. After all, we have much to be thankful for: if you are reading this, it means you have a computer with an internet connection, making you more wealthy than 95-97% of the world’s population. Still, knowing we should be grateful and actually feeling that way are two different things. So how do we get back to feeling thankful?
One simple technique is to keep a gratitude journal. It sounds too easy, or maybe too cheesy. How can writing down what we’re thankful for help when we don’t feel that way? The answer is to start small. Promise yourself that every day for a week, you will write three things you are thankful for, either when you first wake in the morning or right before you go to bed. Try to write three different things each day. You will be amazed when simple phrases and sentences turn into paragraphs and pages. Albert Einstein said, “Everything’s energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you can’t help but get that reality.” This quote explains why gratitude journals work. I find that writing in the morning changes my outlook for the whole day.
Keeping a gratitude journal can re-focus our priorities: if we’re grateful for our husband and kids, why are we spending more time working and less time enjoying them? It also sets a great example for our children. When we can articulate what we are grateful for, it helps them to do the same. That’s important, with Christmas approaching and long lists being written; it can help kids to re-frame their outlook as well. Why not try it for the days leading up to Thanksgiving?
How do you remember to feel thankful? Please share in the comments.