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5 Little Ways I Remind Myself to be Grateful

Last week on social media I explained why I started Thankful Thursday on Instagram. I’d like to say it was for some impressive or noble reason.

But the truth is I did it because sometimes I have a hard time focusing on the good stuff in my own life. I was hoping it would be inspirational for y’all. But it is really a reminder for me.

Noticing all the things that aren’t going right each day comes naturally. And you usually don’t have to look far. Bad drivers. Long lines. Lost paperwork. Unruly kids.

The challenging stuff makes itself known in neon.  Finding the good stuff can require a more intentional effort. It’s not that there aren’t things to be grateful for. Of course there are.

It’s just that gratitude is a muscle. And like our other muscles, we have to be in the habit of strengthening it or it gets flabby and weak.

“Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle.

The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf.

If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished.

To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.”

-Alan Cohen-

Just like with exercise at the gym, I require a certain level of accountability when it comes to strength training, the physical OR psychological kind.

So how do we remind ourselves to be grateful? How do we hold ourselves more accountable for strengthening our gratitude muscle? Here are a few ways that work for me.

1. Thankful Thursdays

Social Media as an accountability partner. Knowing that I plan to post something I’m grateful for every Thursday means that at least one time per week I am looking around at my life and noticing things I have to be grateful for.  

2. Habit Tracker

I also have a 3×5 notecard I post on my bathroom mirror. This little guy is my reminder of the things I want more of in my life, and that includes gratitude.

A friend asked me if I felt bad when I didn’t check off all the days…the answer is Nope. Because each and every day I can mark off is one more vote for the kind of person I want to be.

Gratitude is on this list..and I ask the hubs before bed what he is grateful for (usually while he is brushing his teeth…because Im just fun like that). And while he thinks it over, so do I.

3. Gratitude Journal

I’ve done this several different ways over the years. I’ve had a tiny little notebook where I just wrote down 3 things I was grateful for each day-either in the morning or evening. Or once even at work. 

I have had planners that left a space for gratitude, which was convenient. And I have tried to incorporate things I’m grateful for into my morning journaling.

Any way you do it, writing just a few things down can have a powerful impact. It’s science.

4. Thinking small

I imagine that if you have trouble with finding things to be grateful for you might be making it too complicated.  I am a fan of starting with the littlest things possible.

This habit of starting small evolved from a time when my life was a humungous train wreck and a blue pedicure was about the only thing that had made me smile in a week or more.

The realization that there is always, always something to be grateful for has carried me through some dark times. So look around for the tinest things that make you smile: Sunshine on your face. Riding in the car with the windows down and the music up. Coffee in your favorite mug. Or blue toenails.

All those things count.

 5. Surrounding myself with cues

I have a desk full of trinkets that are visual reminders of a lot of the things I have to be grateful for:

A framed quote from a loving aunt who believes in what I’m trying to do here.  A caticorn stress toy from my husband, who loves my whimsical side. A pair of rainbows holding hands from the most amazing accountability partner. Piles of books and a small jungle of plants: both of which always lift my spirits.

I go out of my way to surround myself with the things that bring me joy and make me smile…and usually they are a representation of a person or activity that I am thankful for. When I need a reminder to focus on gratitude, it is only a glance away.

What we focus on, grows. If you want a grateful heart to grow in your life, you have to start strengthening your gratitude muscle.

The good news is that the more you practice, the easier it gets to spot the good stuff, even when things are challenging.

Follow me on Instagram and let’s exercise our gratitude muscles together.

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