Feeling stuck? Practice Gratitude to Love More and Feel Better
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, you are likely counting your blessings. Maybe you’ve even participated in a social media gratefulness challenge and spent the entire month listing all the ways you are grateful.
But, as a mom or business owner, you may also be counting your tasks. You could be feeling a little overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing a feast or traveling and then turning around to start the work that goes into making holiday magic.
The HireMyMom team understands these conflicting feelings well. Sometimes, it’s easier to count irritations than blessings. Raising a family while nourishing a career is a lot of hard work. And, let’s face it, the last two years have been A LOT. COVID-19 has upended virtually every aspect of life, and that takes a toll.
But, research shows that practicing gratitude and showing it to others has profound and lasting benefits for you and those around you. In the spirit of the season, today’s blog focuses on how to turn your list of “have to’s” into a list of “get to’s” and (we think) convincing data about why it makes sense to pursue a path that includes the practice of gratitude.
Gratitude is the act of noticing the good things in your life–even in the face of adversity–and putting your focus there for at least a few minutes each day.
Many of us are familiar with feeling grateful in fleeting moments. Gratefulness comes from a lot of places–a neighbor stops by with vegetables from her garden, a friend sends you a birthday card, a stranger offers a compliment. All of these things can lead to a short-term feeling of gratefulness.
Likewise, many of us are in the habit of offering a thank you throughout the day. We do it at the grocery store, while running errands, and at the end of calls. But, that can feel more transactional–something we say reflexively rather than a true feeling of gratitude.
As moms, we know that feeling and sharing gratefulness is a critical skill. We train our kids to say thank you to the people around them. We insist they write thank you notes after birthday parties and to grandparents.
Gratitude is different than these experiences.
Practicing gratitude means you proactively look for the good things in your life each day. Shifting to a mindset of gratitude doesn’t mean you are ignoring issues. It just means that you are reframing your focus away from what vexes you and onto the positive.
Why gratitude matters
According to Harvard Health Beat, people who regularly express gratitude are happier, healthier, enjoy stronger relationships, and better deal with adversity. In one study, a group of people wrote about things they were grateful for each week, and another group wrote about the things that irritated them each week.
After ten weeks, those who practiced gratitude were more optimistic, reported feeling better about life, had exercised more, and made fewer visits to the doctor.
We bet this is a feeling you recognize from your own life. When we take a few minutes to step back and consider the larger context of our lives in a positive light, it’s easier to have a sunnier outlook.
Several different studies show that practicing gratitude can lead to a wide range of benefits, including:
- Greater feelings of calm.
- Better sleep and better health–both physical and mental.
- Reduced stress and better emotional regulation.
- Improved relationships at home and work.
- Increased empathy and less aggression.
- More relationships across all areas of life.
- Greater career success and more opportunities.
Clearly, practicing gratitude is good for us.
How to practice gratitude
It’s one thing to know that regularly practicing gratitude can lead to a slew of benefits. It’s another thing to start doing it. The idea of shifting our thinking and practicing gratitude can feel foreign in a society that tends to focus on problems and issues instead of blessings and opportunities.
We talked among the staff and scoured the internet for ideas to get started. Here are some easy-to-try ideas.
Things to think about
- Think of three things you are grateful to have in your life before you get out of bed each morning. If you aren’t sure where to start, tick off a warm bed, followed by slippers and coffee to start your practice.
- Spend a minute thinking about the blessing of the modern, American bathroom as you move forward with your morning. Hot water and indoor plumbing are certainly reasons to feel gratitude.
- Marvel at the conveniences available in your kitchen. Chances are you have an appliance that keeps food at the right temperature, another one to cook food, and a machine to wash your dishes. These tools are the unsung heroes of everyday life, especially the holidays.
- Consider the gift of good health and the way it makes your life more pleasant and more manageable.
Things to do
- Say thank you more. Thank your family members and children throughout the day. Aim for three thank yous to each family member every day.
- Set aside five minutes a week to send a note to a co-worker thanking that person for their work. Be specific and express your heartfelt appreciation for the ways your coworker enriches your life.
- Offer compliments to those around you. Tell your neighbor that you noticed her holiday decorations and appreciate the way they brighten up the street.
- Keep a journal on your nightstand and spend the last few minutes of each day recalling the good things that happened during the day. Recall the sweet moments with your spouse or kids, the funny things said over the dinner table, and even the excitement your pet displayed when you came back from a short walk or running an errand.
- Take a walk and pause to admire the beauty around you. Breathe in the fresh air, look up at the sky, listen to birds singing, and take in the majesty of nature.
- Give up complaining for 21 days to see how you feel.
We are grateful for you
While we are discussing gratitude, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to share how grateful we are to you! Whether you are a small business owner or a mom professional, HireMyMom wouldn’t exist without you.
We are grateful for the chance to provide this forum for people to connect as they pursue passions, grow businesses, and raise families.
We wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.