My family rolled their eyes at me. We were together for Easter and they knew what I had just asked was coming at some point on the trip. “Ugh, Stephanie (uh oh, you know it’s something serious when they use my full name)” they said, “Ugh, Stephanie, why do you always make us do this?”
Every time we're together I ask them to share their favorite memory from the day. “Beccaaauusseee..." I said, "this day was a special one and I want to remember it. Now, tell me your favorite part. Ok, ok, fine, I’ll go first…….”
See, I’m a big believer that being grateful is a choice AND a practice. Every single day we wake up we get to choose how we’re going to live the day and find ways to be more grateful.
That grateful choice affects us. And then it starts to affect the people around us. And before you know it you’re seeing life for the miracle that it is.
You start doing really big things. You start cheering others on. You start finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Oh sure, life can be hard and frustrating and downright confusing. I’ve been there too. But being grateful is a whole lot like yoga, not so much a religion, more of a practice and something you have to keep focusing on to get better at it.
If we can find more ways to be grateful, we’ll be more grateful. Go figure.
I don’t have it all figured out but I wanted to share 6 ways I practice gratefulness in my own life.
1. Go to bed with a grateful heart
When you go to bed tonight, think of all the blessings in your life. Pray or meditate on the good. Actually start to make a mental list of all the things you're grateful for. Go as deep and as detailed as you can. Start to recognize all of the little things that make your life a little richer.
Don’t think about what you have going on at work tomorrow or what time you need to be up in the morning, do that before your head hits the pillow. You'll start to see a change when you let your heart and your head be filled with gratefulness and carry that with you to the morning.
2. Wake up with a little gusto
Every day I wake up, I legit throw both of my hands in the air and proclaim, “Today is going to be a GREAT day, I just know it.” For real, you can ask Scott.
I mean, come on people, WE WOKE UP. That is a freaking miracle in itself!
Saying it out loud, that it's going to be a great day, helps make it true. From the get-go, I’m instantly thinking about how great the day already is and what it's going to be. I’m thinking about the possibilities and feel like I can conquer just about anything that life throws my way. It also puts a little pep in my step and gets me pumped up for the day.
Plus, I'm pretty convinced it's hard to stop a person who wakes up with a little extra gusto + a good cup of coffee, am I right?
3. Be present
If you've been around here for a little while you know I’m all about this one. Being present, being right where you are.
Feel, listen, touch, and sure as heck be still. Life goes waaaaayyyyy too fast. Don’t let it pass you by. Find time to slow down and just be. These moments are your life. When you can start finding ways to be more present, you'll find yourself more grateful, and that my friend is when you really start living.
4. Put your phone away
Raise your hand if you’re ready to throw your phone into a black hole. I don't mean to be so dramatic here but they’re like little life suckers. We spend so much time filling our boredom with what is going on in everyone else's lives that we forget to be a part of our own. Where we are and who's around us in that very moment.
I guarantee whatever is on your phone can wait. Work? It can wait. Social media? Don’t get me started.
Real life is happening, don’t you see it?
Hey, full transparency, I’m 100% guilty here. I’m on my phone way more than I need to be but I’m also determined to control it.
Instead of getting lost in my phone, I’m trying to lose my phone more. (Ok not actually lose it but you see what I’m saying right?)
The next time you’re going to reach for your phone and mindlessly scroll, don’t. Look around. Look out the window. Close your eyes and dream a little. And if you dare, TALK to the person next to you.
When we're present and aware, with no distractions, we start to notice the little things and soon realize that right there is life and it makes you a little more grateful to be a part of it.
5. Share your favorite part of each day
This is why my family was rolling their eyes in the beginning. It’s my go to. Picking your favorite part of the day and sharing it. Favorite doesn't have to mean the absolute best thing ever, there's no pressure. It can be a highlight or something positive, or the first thing that comes to your mind from the day.
You can share with someone, think about it on your own, or journal about it but by golly give it a try.
Reminiscing on each day makes us realize how much we did and how lucky we are to be able to do those things.
It’s easy to look at each day and think it was just another day. That right there is how life passes us by and goes so quickly. But, if you look a little deeper, you’ll start to remember the details and live an entire lifetime. You start realizing that even ordinary days have something great tucked inside of them.
Maybe you got 15 extra minutes to yourself, or you had a ridiculously good lunch, or you saw the first robin of the season. Whatever it may be, I hope you take the time to look back and appreciate it.
PS: I love to ask this question to anyone and everyone. It's the BEST conversation stater. Kids, grandmas, bosses, people I just met.... I love to encourage people to look back on their day and find the good. Feel free to use it the next time you're in a small group or with a friend!
6. Start seeing the ordinary as extraordinary
Don’t let this life pass you by. Every. single. day. is a miracle.
Things really changed for me when I started seeing the ordinary as extraordinary. I realized that having coffee in the morning is just as special in our little cabin as it is out in the main square with the locals in Jardín, Colombia.
That having appetizers next to a river in Kansas was just as incredible as having appetizers next to the river in Porto, Portugal.
Don’t wait for the weekends or vacation to come alive, find it in your everyday and live a more grateful life.
There you go, 6 ways I practice gratefulness and I think you can start practicing too.
As I said above, I by no means have it all figured out. I mean, does anyone really? All I know is that when I started practicing being grateful, I found myself more grateful. I found myself more alive and present and excited to share that with others.
Keep shining your light my friend, you're helping others without even knowing it.