Sometimes in life, everything strikes at once. What can you do when life doesn’t only dole out lemons — it pitches them speedball-style at your head? You can’t change some external circumstances, no matter how hard you try. But you can practice mindfulness and feel more grateful for what you do have.
These little rituals can help you be more grateful and happy to keep your balance when life leaves you teetering at the edge.
1. Visualize a Happy Memory
Your breath doesn’t abandon you, even on your darkest days. You can rely on the steady rhythm of inhaling and exhaling to regain your center. Sit quietly and breathe deeply, drawing the air into your lungs and exhaling completely. As you breathe, focus on letting your muscles relax.
Then, think back to a time you felt happy and at peace. Maybe it was seeing your family after a long absence. Perhaps it was the beautiful sunrise you witnessed on your commute. Let that same feeling of joy wash over you, chasing away any negative emotions.
2. Check Your Mind-Body Connection
When you’re under stress, your body manifests this physically. You might experience severe headaches or gastrointestinal upset. If you have chronic pain, you may endure terrible flares.
Take time to acknowledge your physical feelings. Ask yourself, “Am I clenching my jaw?” Focus on releasing it. If your shoulders carry your tension, rotate and stretch them. Invest in a massage roller you can use to ease the pain while sitting at your desk.
3. Write a Thank You Letter
Everyone knows somebody who helped them at some point. Have you taken the time to thank that individual? Even if you did so a long time ago, people adore hearing that you’re thinking of them, and you still appreciate their kindness.
Write a letter to that person. You can buy a beautiful set of thank you notes inexpensively, or you can type your feelings out on ordinary paper. Then, send it to them. You’ll brighten both of your days.
4. Keep a Gratitude Jar
When you need to adjust your attitude, it helps if you have tangible reminders of memories that made you smile. Decorate a mason jar and make it a nighttime ritual to write down one thing that you felt grateful for that day.
Every time you feel down, reach into your jar. Pull out a piece of paper and reflect on the experience. Focusing on the positive things in life raises your vibration.
5. Write in a Journal
Journaling is a great way to reframe negative thoughts in a more upbeat light. Begin writing in the stream-of-consciousness technique. Don’t judge your words as they come — let them flow freely like rain.
Then, read what you’ve written. What can you reframe more positively? “My family hates me because I can’t afford to buy them gifts,” becomes, “the people who care about me understand and respect my financial predicament.”
6. Give a Stranger a Compliment
When you brighten someone else’s day, you feel better instantly, too. Tell the person in front of you in the grocery store that you love their outfit. Ask the cashier how her day is going and wish her well. Smiles are contagious, and you’ll soon find the corners of your eyes wrinkling as well.
7. Do a Good Deed
How to be more grateful? By helping others, of course! No matter how badly off you are, someone else has it worse. Cultivate gratitude for what you do have by performing a random act of kindness.
If you have an extra $2, share it with the person holding a cardboard sign on the street corner. Better yet, shake their hand and offer some supportive words with your donation. Many of the homeless feel unseen, and you might be the only person to recognize their humanity that day.
8. Take a Walk in Nature
Getting your body moving outdoors can improve your mood as effectively as medications in some cases. Nature transports you from the hustle and bustle of daily life and connects you to something bigger than traffic jams and office disputes. Visit a local museum and stroll the grounds, or after a stressful week, hit the trail for an invigorating hike.
9. Say “Thank You” by Loving Your Body
How many times do you think, “I’m treating myself by skipping my workout”? If you have a cold that hits below the throat, it’s okay to back off your routine. However, you should celebrate this body you have — it’s the only one you’ve got. Express your thanks for it by treating it to some enjoyable exercise.
You don’t have to log miles on a treadmill to treat your body right — why not dock your iPhone and dance? Music can elevate your mood on its own, and combined with a fun dance party, it’ll make for one workout you won’t want to skip.
Likewise, show gratitude for the food you have by sitting down and savoring your meal. If you typically eat dinner in front of the television, turn the screen off and set the dining room table. Take the time to chew each bite thoroughly and take note of how your stomach grows full. This practice could help you control your weight by making you more mindful of how food affects your body — one more thing for which to feel grateful!
10. Meditate Before Bedtime
Finally, focusing on life’s problems before your head hits the pillow almost guarantees you’ll toss and turn all night. Before you lie down to sleep, take a few minutes to perform some simple stretches. Then, sit quietly and focus on something positive. Try to generate a feeling of metta or loving-kindness toward yourself.
Remind yourself that you are worthy of love — and a good night’s rest. Make a conscious decision to let go of worry. If troublesome thoughts continue intruding, tune into a positivity podcast as you drift off to sleep.
Feeling More Grateful Will Improve Your Life
Remember, everyone has something to feel grateful for, even in their darkest days. By nurturing a spirit of gratitude, you can improve your mood and feel happier with what you do have.
Author Bio: Kate Harveston is a professional journalist from Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing and enjoys researching topics related to health and wellbeing. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her blog, “So Well, So Woman.”