Feeling thankful is something that cannot always be described. Life can get away from all of us, especially when the holidays roll around. Many of us wonder how the year went by so fast — it was just Christmas after all. Life becomes more hectic the older we get. Things aren’t simple like the days when we came home from school, played outside and ate an entire box of mac & cheese for dinner before being tucked into a warm bed, ready to do it all over again.
Nowadays we easily become wrapped up in our careers and day-to-day lives that we forget how lucky we are. The holidays are a great time to reconnect with yourself and what is important to you. Read on to find six ways you can remain feeling thankful, even after Thanksgiving has passed.
Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, a local church or at another local organization, and experience one of the most rewarding things you can do during the holiday season. Not only will an experience such as serving Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate provide a humbling opportunity, but it will open your eyes to the things in life that truly matter.
It’s often a challenge to eat dinner together with everyone’s conflicting schedules. Try to plan at least a day a week to eat dinner as a family. Cook together for an even stronger bonding experience. Whether it’s you and your significant other, you and the kids or the entire family, this can become a great family activity. Use this time to also share with one another things you feel thankful for on that particular day or week, like a completed project at work, an A on a school paper or maybe a new friend.
Learn to see through other people’s eyes so you can, in turn, become more aware of your responses, actions and reactions. To stay mindful of other people, respect others regardless of their social status, gender, height or race. You’re not going to agree with everyone you meet in life, but if you practice mindfulness toward other’s opinions and beliefs, you will make a difference. Another helpful tip — remember not to talk too much about yourself and to listen to others.
Many people believe saying is believing. In this case, it most definitely is. When you write positive affirmations, remove the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ because you should aim to express your gratitude. Remember also to write your affirmations in the present. Some people even listen to inspirational music when they write affirmations because doing so can engage your emotions. Choose to focus less on the ‘how’ of affirmations. An action plan will help you, but not if it’s too specific.
There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Studies show it will lower your stress levels, make you feel calmer at night and help you to gain a new perspective. To keep a gratitude journal you will want to write down a list of positive events at the end of each day, then elaborate on why the event was positive or why it made you happy. It may seem challenging at first but repeating it every night before bed will help it become a habit you benefit from daily.
Life will likely present you with multiple new opportunities in your lifetime. Don’t limit yourself. These opportunities are likely related to your education, career, family life, hobbies — the list goes on. Make sure you keep yourself open to new things that come along. All too often you will feel comfortable in your current role in life, and this can sometimes deter you from straying too far from the norm. Think about new opportunities as new growth. You may stumble across something or someone you love.
It’s often difficult to slow your mind down after a long day. Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing you can do to shut down and fall asleep. Give meditation a chance. People meditate all over the world. Some choose to do it in the morning, and others at night. Try to meditate before bed so you can reflect on your day in a positive light. You will want to limit all distractions, slow your breathing and find your inner peace. Not only will this calm you before bed, but it will set your mind up for a positive next day.
Feeling thankful isn’t reserved only for the holidays. Make thankfulness a year-round occurrence. Even when life gets busy and it seems you have no time to keep a gratitude journal or volunteer your time somewhere, try to slow yourself down and practice one of the ways above to remain feeling thankful. You don’t have to commit to something every day, but if you commit to meditation before bed or volunteering once a month, you will not only better your own life but also the life of others.