Whenever November rolls around, there’s one topic that immediately springs to my mind, and that’s gratitude. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but it’s not always easy to get in the spirit of the season. But when you practice gratitude, the precious people, places, and things in your life are that much better. Appreciating what we’ve got is necessary when it comes to living a satisfied life, but it doesn’t always come naturally. That’s why we’ve put together these DIY activities to cultivate your gratitude.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
Find What You’re Grateful For
To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you must first explore what it is that you’re grateful for. These can be as grand and cosmic as the twinkling of the stars in the sky, or as simple and basic as what you’re having for breakfast. Once you’ve gotten into the habit, you can appreciate every bliss in your life with gusto, big or small. Here are some questions for you to get started in your journal:
- What (or who) cheers you up when you’re upset?
- Why does this cheer you up?
- How do you show your appreciation for this blessing?
- Where do you feel safe and comfortable?
- What makes this place so safe and comfortable?
- How could you make more places feel like this place?
- What advantages have you had in your life that others may not have?
- Why did you have these advantages? Who made them possible?
- How could you share these advantages with others?
- When have you struggled to appreciate something helpful or important?
- What made this blessing difficult to appreciate?
- How could you better cherish something like this in the future?
Write A Gratitude List
A gratitude list is just that: a comprehensive (but by no means complete) list of things that you are grateful for. This is helpful for at least two reasons. Firstly, the act of recognizing these things as something you appreciate can transform their assigned meaning in your brain. Secondly, some of the things that you list may not be obvious subjects for gratitude, and that can be necessary for kindling the flame of hope in your heart. Things such as:
- A loved one.
- Your partner.
- Your animal companion.
- Your friend.
- A safe space.
- Your home.
- Your office.
- Your favorite park.
- The simple things.
- Your morning coffee.
- Your first glimpse of morning sunlight.
- Your shower at the end of a long day.
- The hard-won lessons.
- The mistakes that taught you a necessary skill.
- A challenge that made you rise to the occasion.
- The pain that opened your heart to the pain of others.
Show Your Gratitude
One of the most enlightening things you can do with your newfound gratitude is share it with the world around you. We live in a world where people are far too often concerned with their own challenges to appreciate what’s right in front of them, and as a result many people who make the world a better place go underappreciated. You can make a difference by showing your gratitude to the people who deserve it.
- With A Random Act of Kindness. Going the extra mile for another person can be a great way to show your appreciation for them. Next time you go to a dinner party, help with the dishes. Next time you come in to work, bring donuts for your co-workers. Next you’re driving your partner’s car, fill their tank up with gas. These little things make the people around you feel cherished, and can inspire them to act with kindness themselves.
- With A Thoughtful Gift. Giving to others is good for them for obvious reasons, but the act of giving can be its own reward. A life without giving is just as poor as a life without gifts, and to withhold your generosity is to deprive yourself of the joy of giving. Even the smallest gift can lift a spirit when given in earnest.
- With Words of Affirmation. Even if you lack the resources to give something more concrete, you still have the capacity to give something quite valuable. Your words of gratitude have inherent value, and you can do the world a favor by sharing them.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
How Else Can I Cultivate Gratitude?
For each of you, your journey to achieving an attitude of gratitude might look different. As you embark on that journey this November, we want to help you at every step of the way. At Integrative Counsel, we’ve put together a lot of resources to help you get in touch with your gratitude over the years. Here are just a few:
- Authentically Surviving Your Family Gatherings. With Thanksgiving so perilously close, one of the most challenging things for many people to be grateful for is having an encounter with their family of origin. This article can help you stay hopeful, grateful, and authentically yourself during your next family gathering.
- Gratitude Through Art Therapy. Your gratitude can be more than just thank you’s and thoughtful gifts. You can express your commitment to gratitude through the act of creation, and this article can show you how.
- Tips For Starting A Gratitude Journal. Started writing in your journal, but can’t help but stare at the blank page? Journaling isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a beginner. Our office manager and expert journaler Alli Cravener put together this article just for you.
Looking for more activities and resources? Sign up to receive our virtual magazine in your inbox! We send free resources, art and journal prompts, wisdom from our practitioners, and more. Click here to get on the mailing list.
Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.