“Hey! How was your day off?”
“Pretty good! I had a good day. I wrote an article, read a book, cooked a few dishes, and cleaned the house.”
For someone who always feels the need to achieve more, do better, be better, get more out of each day, I need a constant reminder to be thankful for what I have and to realise that I am very fortunate. I am still not at a point where I can sit back and relax for a few hours, soak up the beauty of the world we live in and be grateful. Regardless, I’d like to share with you five things that I do to practice gratitude in everyday life.
Have a daily gratitude routine
I find that when I have a few quiet minutes during the day, or at nights before going to bed, reflecting on good things that happened throughout the day makes me feel more thankful and happier. There is always something to be grateful for; whether it is about having a roof above our heads, being able to provide for my family, or witnessing a random act of kindness when I least expect it. This is why Oprah shared that the single most important thing she’s ever done in her life is keeping a gratitude journal and writing down five things she is grateful for, every single day.
Think in terms of progress not perfection
I have a lot of goals in life, some are crazier and bigger than others. Writing new year resolutions without fail every December/January has been my jam since I was in my early 20’s. Sometimes, I achieved them, sometimes I didn’t but I realised that I was often too focused on end goals that I forgot to enjoy the experience or celebrate small wins. There must be some truth about neurons in our brains that cultivate positive states of mind, I am certainly more appreciative when I celebrate small wins.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were doing something else when eating your meal that you didn’t realise how you finished an entire plate? I have. Many times, in fact. Multitasking is an enemy of mindfulness. It is hard to be mindful and therefore grateful when my brain is switching back and forth between multiple activities. These days, I try my best to be mindful of what I am currently doing; be it eating, walking, writing, cooking or speaking. When I am mindful, I feel clarity and appreciation o f the situation, the experience and the surrounding.
Practise a random act of kindness
Whenever I see the phrase “random act of kindness”, I picture an image of helping a homeless. While helping a homeless person on the street is indeed a random act of kindness, it is not the only act of kindness. Making way for someone who is in a hurry, letting an elderly skip the line, giving a listening ear to a colleague who is having a bad day, volunteering at a community event, donating to a charity, sharing my knowledge online or offline to those who need it, doing someone a favour without asking or expecting anything in return, or something as simple as picking up litter on a street are some ideas for random act of kindness that I have practised and each time after I have done a random act of kindness, I feel thankful. Thankful for the opportunity and thankful for having the capacity or ability.
Spend time outside
My couch at home is quite comfortable and I work at a pretty nice office but spending time outside beats staying indoors any time of the day. I am lucky because with a small human being (aka my daughter) to look after, I am forced to get out of the house every day. I notice that after going for a walk in the neighbourhood or a playtime at a local park, I feel more alive and energetic. In summer when the sun doesn’t go down until 8pm, my family usually goes out for a walk or a play at a local park after dinner. This routine is not only good for my body but also for my mind.
I like practising gratitude every day because I feel richer and happier and it makes me a better human.