one green planet
one green planet

I probably don’t need to remind you that life is busy: you’re reading this while making a mental grocery list, working on a project for school or work, and drinking or eating, aren’t you? Even if you’re not, you catch my drift, right? The point is, it’s easy to get caught up in the to-dos and the goal-attainment and the self-improvement stuff every day. We all do it. Especially me. But every once and a while, we’ve just got to sit and be thankful for all we do have. I’ve been taking more time to do this lately, and it’s made a big difference in my mental state. If you’re looking for a way to clear your mental closet from time to time, actively practicing gratitude may be for you too.

Taking time to actively practice gratitude is quite simple. It means taking 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your day – or even just any time you have 5 minutes of quiet time and space throughout the day – and making an actual written list of the things you’re grateful for that day. Many people keep a “gratitude journal,” which is a simple notebook you keep on hand or at your bed side. During a designated time, simply write down on a page the answer to the question: “What am I grateful for today?” It could be the small things  – you’re thankful the grocery store line went fast when you were in a rush to get home or that you heard your favorite song on the radio – or something bigger, like thankfulness for your continued health or for a relationship you have in your life that always lifts  you up. It could be thankfulness for things that went right when you had anxiety about them potentially not going well. It could be for people. It could just be for another day on this Earth! No matter what it is, just take the time to jot it down.

You might change your list from day-to-day, or simply take the time to remind yourself of the blessings you have in your life. If you’re having trouble with this, keep in mind that the very fact that you can read is a blessing and something not everyone in the world has! Keep in mind that the fact that you have a phone or a computer to read this on is also something to be thankful for. Do you have clothes and shoes on? Another win. Do you have running water at home? Can you pay most of your bills? You’re doing better than many, my friend, and practicing gratefulness can really put you at ease when you think “nothing is going right” with your life. When in doubt, just pull out that gratitude journal or list, and remind yourself of everything that has gone right for you lately.

If you make the practice of gratitude an intentional part of your day and carve just a few minutes out to jot these things down, it soon may become habit. And this is one great habit to have – being thankful for the things you have and the life you’ve manifested can be a great way to “live in the now.” Yes, we all have problems, and we all have parts of our lives we wish were better. But actively reminding yourself of the things you do have can give you a stronger sense of presence and calm in times when things aren’t going so well.

Give it a try sometime, and let us know how it goes!

Image Source: Lisa Tancsics/Wikimedia Commons