I was recently sitting in a coffee shop on my own, enjoying my coffee and watching the world go by.
I began to think about life and how easy it is for us to focus on all the things we are lacking. Too often we overlook all of the wonderful things we have in our life while striving to achieve more of the things we think we are missing.
Regularly practising gratitude is a great way to refocus your attention onto all the reasons you have in your life to be grateful.
Here are 5 easy ways to practice gratitude that work for me:
Go for a walk
Going for a walk is a great way to get out of your own head.
Walking around your local community, you will see many people who are all living very different lives. Offer a smile to the people who pass you by and interact with shop assistants.
You never know what people are going through and a simple friendly gesture can positively impact another person’s life, as well as your own.
Taking a walk can be enough to remind you of how much you have. You have money to buy essentials, you have a home where you feel safe and you are free to go wherever you choose.
Perhaps you live in a community that offers beautiful parks, a local farmers’ market or a museum with free entry.
Take the time to see how much your local community has to offer and consider all of the reasons you are grateful to live there.
Walking is also great exercise and being out in nature is known to help reduce stress.
When you feel stressed, you are more likely to focus on all the negative aspects of your life. So, being out and about will help you to maintain a positive outlook and feel more grateful for everything you have in life.
Use what you have
We live in a time when everything seems to be disposable.
If something doesn’t work, we replace it.
If we are bored of something we forget about it and move on to the next thing that catches our attention.
We have so much stuff, yet we often feel empty and unfulfilled.
We no longer appreciate everyday items because we are always thinking about the next thing we want to buy. This makes us focus more on what we don’t have, rather than everything we do have.
Take some time to go through your home and identify everything you have but no longer use. I guarantee you will be surprised by just how much you have managed to accumulate and completely forget about.
Books, DVDs, gadgets, clothes, shoes – the list is endless.
It is important to acknowledge how much we already have and how full our lives are. I’m willing to guess that most of us could probably fill a small room with the number of things we’ve used once or twice – or maybe never – and then dis-guarded.
Rather than continuing to buy new items, start to use and appreciate what you already have, and if you genuinely feel you no longer have a use or need for an item, consider if it can be recycled and used in your home in another way, or if it could be given to someone else to make use of.
Visit your local library
I love visiting my local library.
It’s a great place to find out what’s going on locally and meet new people, particularly other mums.
I discovered many groups that I could join with my son, and story time is something that my son really enjoys.
It’s impossible to feel bored in a library as there is literally something for everyone.
History is always a great place to start, or books on social issues.
Reading about the struggles people around the world have endured over the years is a great way to put your life into perspective and remind you of just how lucky you are.
The self-help and personal development section is also good to browse as there will be lots of books offering tips and strategies for having and maintaining a positive outlook and practising gratitude on a daily basis.
If you haven’t joined your local library, I really recommend you do so. They’re free to join and you can normally take up to 6 books home. So if you find a book that sparks your interest, you can continue reading it in the comfort of your own home.
Spend time with a friend
In our digitally connected world where instant messaging and Facebook are part of everyday life, it can be easy to forget the benefits of physically meeting up with someone.
As nice as it was spending time alone having a coffee, it’s just as nice to grab a coffee with a friend.
Arrange a play date with a friend that also has children or arrange an adult only play date where you and your friend simply enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company.
Spending time with a friend reminds us how lucky we are to have great people in our life and people we can rely on during difficult times as well as to celebrate with when good things happen.
Chatting with a friend in person also tends to allow for more honest, authentic communication and often you’ll end up sharing things that are going on for each of you.
Listening to the challenges of others reminds us that we are not the only one with problems, and that actually life could be a lot worse so we should count our blessings.
Spend quality time with your child
When was the last time you spent quality time with your child?
I don’t mean putting on a film and pottering around doing laundry, getting dinner prepared while having one eye on the film.
I mean snuggling up on the sofa with a blanket and popcorn and watching Lion King from start to finish with no interruptions. No phone, no chores, just you and your child.
I have to admit, I don’t do this often enough, but when I do I always thoroughly enjoy it.
I am left feeling incredibly grateful for my son and for being lucky enough to spend time with him and to be his mum.
Of course, my son loves getting my undivided attention and always asks for us to do it more often.
Spending quality time with my son never fails to leave me feeling incredibly blessed and grateful.
All of the above reminds me that we always have more than we think and we always have so much to be grateful for.
We have everything we need and more to feel happy and positive about life.
We just need to take the time to appreciate it all and I hope these 5 easy ways to practice gratitude help you to do so.