The other night, a friend of mine came over to have dinner with me and my kids, since her other half and mine were out of town on a business trip. Every time this friend comes to dinner, she sends me the nicest thank you text next morning, even if all I served was takeout pizza and a side of tired, cranky kids.
Her texts always make me feel good, and they also made me realize I used to be a lot better about making gratitude a priority in my life. Ever since kids tossed my organized life upside down, I’ve neglected it at times. I think, in all of our busy lives, it’s easy to let gratitude slide.
We all know stress affects our bodies, but what about the positive, feel-good emotions? Can they affect us too? I believe they can. Gratitude makes us feel good, both the person thanking someone and the one being thanked. Our days might be busy and full of to-do lists, but I believe gratitude can make all our lives richer.
Here are 8 Simple Ways To Sneak Gratitude into Your Day
1 – Appreciate the Sunrise
I know it’s early, and I know how important sleep is, but for a while now, during the week, I’ve been getting up before everyone else in my house so I can catch our brilliant Maine sunrises. I make myself a cup of coffee and sit on our side or front porch, depending on the time of year, and I watch that gorgeous red line in the horizon spread to pinks and lilacs before it lights up my day.
The world is quiet. My mind is quiet. Everything around me is peaceful for just a few moments, and it is lovely. It helps my mind get centered and be in a good place for the morning ahead.
2 – Start Your Day with a Quick Thank You to Someone
I like to make this one personal, or face to face. And usually, my husband or kids are the recipients because I live with them. “Thank you so much for getting up in the middle of the night with the dog, honey,” I’ve said recently to my husband. Or, “Thank you for putting all your Legos away so I didn’t step on them this morning,” I say A LOT to my son.
Even though my son practically has apoplexy when I ask him to clean up his Lego, I see the smile light up his face when I thank him.
3 – Send an Old Fashioned Note of Thanks
I love pretty stationery and gorgeous colored pens for writing. Although I used to do it more often, I still try to send one thank you note at least every few weeks to someone special, to thank my aunt for taking good care of us, to thank my sister for the goodies she sent my kids, to my friends and peers in my writing life who motivate me daily to be a better writer.
I love the whole ritual of it, the fun paper, addressing the envelope, the stamps, putting it in the mail and sending it off, imagining them receiving it. I’ve especially had a lot of fun doing this with my daughter who loves to send and receive real mail.
4 – Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Although I love a good thanks in person or with a special note or package, I also realize how easy social media is and how often we are on it. But more importantly, how many of us actually use social media for our businesses and careers.
This doesn’t have to be elaborate or showy, but it can make someone’s day. Send a quick text or Facebook message with a cute emoji that says, “I really appreciate your help last week.” Or “Thank you so much for all the hard work you did on our latest project. We never could have finished it without you.” Just a few seconds of your time can make someone else’s day start off shining.
5 – Make or Buy a Happy Book
Years ago, my friend and author Meg Leder taught me about Happy Books. Find a special journal and write a few things in it every day that you are thankful for, or that make you happy. Write in it, draw in it, whatever you want, as long as what you put in it is positive. You can also let other people write happy thoughts in it. Pretty soon, you’ll have a book full of happy thoughts.
Not only does this ritual make me feel wonderful, but it reminds me daily what I’m thankful for, and the pages of mine have connected me to fabulous people all over the world.
Meg and her co-author, Rachel Kempster, created and wrote a book based on this called The Happy Book. I love what they say here in the introduction, “The Happy Book is about celebrating what makes you glad, what gives you joy from your heart down to the tips of your toes, what makes you quietly appreciative and full inside, or what makes you feel just dang content.”
6 – Take a Negative & Make it Positive
As a mom, I always feel like I’m searching for that room of my own, that time of my own, just a few moments of solitude, pretty please. But, even though I get up early every morning to try and claim that time, often my daughter, wakes up early too. This used to frustrate me, but instead of giving in to that frustration all the time, I try to turn it around and take advantage of those moments with just her. We make tea with honey and cuddle on the couch with a good book, or simply talk about our days.
I know the days are coming when she will pull away from me, so I make a point to enjoy her close as long as I can, even if that closeness comes during the part of the day I carved out for myself.
7 – Add Gratitude to Your To Do List
You know those lists we all have, and how we’re always trying to accomplish everything on them, well, add gratitude to your to do list. Not only can it be an easy one to cross off, but it can be something on your list that makes you feel wonderful. Send that quick thank you text, call your mom and thank her for babysitting the kids, take your neighbors some homemade deliciousness.
8 – End Your Day with Gratitude
I love beginning my day with gratitude, but it also feels good to end my day this way. We all have worries and stresses and jobs and responsibilities that pile up during the day, and it can be so easy to let that load of stress follow us to bed. I get it, I have two kids, an old, sick dog, an amazing husband who works a ton, a house that’s constantly in a state of repair or renovation, and I work from home.
But I try and remember to thank my husband every night for something special he does for me. Not only does he do the dinner dishes, but he cleans the coffee press. I know it sounds tiny, but knowing that every morning, when I get up before the rest of my household, that I will meet a clean coffee press to start my day. Heaven, people, pure heaven.
He does the same for me, thanking me for getting the kids from school or making breakfast, whatever it may be, knowing that we see each other and value each other’s roles, makes us feel loved and needed. And that’s a wonderful way to end the day!