Now that Halloween is over, everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving. It's the ultimate combination of friends, family, great food, and being grateful for how lucky we all are.
Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude, but it should not solely done on Thanksgiving. I know how it is. You get busy, you go through the motions, you get stressed, and you never really take time to appreciate things in the midst of all the chaos.
I don't know about you guys, but every year seems to go by faster and faster. Sometimes I sit down and think woah. Where did that week, that month, that YEAR go? When life puts stress on me, I just go through everything - every task, every day - without ever stopping to think.
This was both an uplifting and heartbreaking realization for me. I'm glad I now know that this is something I need to work on, but I also wonder how many other people do what I do and just let the time go by.
I've pondered over this for weeks now, and I truly think it's because we don't stop to display gratitude. So I have tried implementing some things into my daily routine to help. Without any further ado, here are some things you can do to be thankful each and every day:
This is one of the easiest and simplest ways to be grateful every day, and the best part is, it takes very little time.
All you have to do is take 5 minutes right when you wake up or when you got to bed (or both!) to write in a journal. You can either free write and get things off your mind, make a to-do list, or - my favorite - write a list of things you are grateful for.
I used to do this religiously each morning during the spring semester, writing a list each day of things I was thankful for. When summer hit, I got lazy and stopped, but I've decided to start up again.
I cannot explain how great I feel throughout each day when I take the time to do this. It's like I have a new perspective on life. I'm in a better mood, I notice the little things, and I become more optimistic. My friends even noticed, asking me why I was always in such a good mood.
This little trick is something I would definitely recommend trying - the results will astound you.
Take Time for Yourself
This is the hardest thing for me to do. I tend to wear myself thin between friends, studying, and tennis. Like I said before, I rarely ever stop to think before I'm flying through the motions again.
But I found that even just 10-15 minutes of time to yourself a day can do wonders. It doesn't have to take a long time like painting your nails or watching a movie. Just think of what you enjoy doing and do that!
Personally, I love to read and write, so I do that in my 'me time.' In the picture above, I went to the roof to drink coffee, slow down, and admire everything outside. It can be something so simple like that. Maybe you like videos games or or knitting - whatever it is, make time for it.
The key is to do whatever works for you and know that you are so, so, so important, and so is your well being because that affects everything else. Take care of yourself because you're the most important person in your life.
Unlike the other two things, this is something that I have not yet done, but would really like to try. Meditation has so many benefits, including reduced stress, improvement in overall mood, increase in self awareness, heightened concentration, and more. Plus, the act of meditation itself can be considered an act of gratitude! Pretty cool, right?
This is something that really interest me, so I went ahead and downloaded the Calm app and am starting my meditation practice tomorrow! I'll let you guys know how it goes. That's just one app of many - do a search and you'll find tons of options to help you on your meditation quest.
When was the last time you were truly present in a moment? When we're at school, we're thinking of vacation. When we're with our friends, we're on our phones making plans for tomorrow night. When we're eating breakfast, we're already thinking about lunch that day. Stop and think about that for a couple moments.
Humans think and think and think. Too much projecting, too much analyzing, and sometimes too much regret. But all that thinking really doesn't get us anywhere. It just takes us away from where we are at that moment.
So go and focus on what is in front of you. Put down your phone when you are with your friends. Really look into your significant other's eyes. Listen to hear, not to reply. Feel the fabric around you. Take in the scents that surround you. Do something to reconnect with the moment, whatever the moment may be.
Stop dwelling about things that have already happened. Don't get stuck in the past because once you go there, it is hard to return. I'm not saying push feelings away, but to acknowledge those feelings. Let them in. Accept them. Think about them. Don't label or judge. Observe and it will vanish. Then return to the present.
Another thing to do is to focus on one task at a time, and not a dozen. Leave room between activities. Don't smash your schedule so close together that you don't even have time to breathe.
As the Zen proverb goes,
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
There is something so beautiful about that.
Spend More Time in Nature
Commit to going outside and taking in the beautiful world around you. It doesn't have to include traveling to exquisite places (although who wouldn't want to do that?). It can be taking a walk during sunset hours, going to sit by the lake in silence, or even paying more attention when you're walking around campus.
Being outside reduces stress and gives your head a break. Above all, it forces you to appreciate the beauty around you. Mother Nature is waiting for you to go outside so she can make you feel better. She always has something to offer. That, in itself, is something to be thankful for.
What do you think?
What do you do to practice gratitude in your day to day life? Are you thinking of implementing anything that I have mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!