Little ways to practice gratitude

I’m a bit of a naturally pessimistic person, I hate to admit. However, I do know the importance of practicing gratitude everyday and constantly being mindful of my blessings, despite how life can knock you down multiple times. I want to develop a more joyful mindset in 2018 and beyond, and I definitely don’t want to give out negative energy when I am around others.

Practicing gratitude is not just reserved for Thanksgiving Day! It is important to be thankful every day of the year. It’s hard to believe that when you are in the midst of a tough time that you have so much to blessings upon blessings in your life. Trust me, I have been there before. Now that’s not to say that you don’t have the right to be upset about whatever situation you’re in right now. I’m all about being real and not pretending that everything is sunshine and happiness when you feel like your life is falling apart. It’s okay to express yourself and to admit when things are not okay.

Still, everyone can benefit from thankfulness, and actually feeling it everyday in their lives. If not for anything else, at least do it for your mental and emotional well-being.

Keep a gratitude journal
I know, this is the first piece of advice people give out when preaching about gratitude. But it really does work. Recording the little things you are thankful for keeps it locked in your mind every time you go back and read it. Can’t stomach writing daily? Write a list on your planner or notebook on the front page. My planner has a section that allows me to be write down what I am grateful for, and every time I pass by that page, I smile and am reminded of those blessings everyday.

Be present towards the thing you are thankful for
I stay present by being in awe of my dogs when they are curled up right next to me. I feel and examine their soft fur, stare into their eyes and feel thankful for how much joy and bring to my life. Practicing mindfulness alongside gratitude also means cuddling up next to Cecilio in bed (instead of checking my phone at night) and reminding myself how lucky I am to have married a wonderful man, or having a deep conversation with him at the dinner table without checking our phones (it’s a bad habit we are trying to overcome). You can also be present for the little things that many people take for granted: such as rolling around in a warm bed and physically swiping your feet against the cool sheets, or enjoying every sip of your favorite coffee. The more you are aware of your blessings and the more you immerse themselves in them, the more practicing being present feels like second nature.

Remember that it could always be worse
I always didn’t like when my mom would tell me this because let’s be honest: it is so much easier to wallow in self-pity. When I have those bouts of wondering, “why me?” when it comes to me lupus, she always reminds me that there are perfectly healthy people but do not have a good family, loving husband, or any friends. She also reminds me that in spite of my lupus, I have access to amazing healthcare. I don’t know what would have happened if my dad didn’t catch me convulsing on the floor from a mini-stroke and my first seizure in December 2011. I’m still here, and stronger than ever. I know it’s funny to joke about #firstworldproblems, but the fact of the matter is that there are people out there who have to choose between buying food or paying for a bill, or people with way worse diseases and no access to healthcare. Whenever Cecilio does or says something that irks me, I quickly try to remind myself of everything else he has done for me. I could’ve ended up with an abusive man, but here I am, married to someone who takes such good care of me and would go to the ends of the Earth for me. Remember, there are people praying for the life you have.

Focus on you, not her
Not comparing yourself to others is SO much easier said than done. But remember this: just because someone is beautiful, smart, and talented doesn’t mean you aren’t any of these things too. Focus on the things that make you unique, and build upon those things. You might think that someone has everything together, and that they have the “perfect life”, but you don’t see them 24/7, living their lives day in and day out. Those bloggers you see with all of the PR packages, marbled backgrounds, fairy lights, #blogsquad, and perfectly picked outfits? They don’t live that way everyday. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry about being the “perfect” blogger.

Meditate (or pray) for your blessings
I say meditate (or thank the Universe) for your blessings because I know not everyone who reads my blog is a Christian, so I try to respect that. But from a Christian’s perspective, you must always pray thanking God for everything He has given you. Even if you feel like you have nothing, you are still alive and breathing, and He has given you that gift. I try to start the day reading daily devotional apps (Jesus Calling and Forward Day by Day), praying throughout the day and at night before going to bed. Like I said above, there’s nothing wrong with being down in the dumps and feeling broken. But constantly being negative, bitter, and whiny tells God that what He hasn’t given you isn’t good enough for you, and can you imagine how insulting that feels?! I can see why my mom would sometimes say “parenting is a thankless job” during difficult and weak moments.

Volunteer or Donate
Giving your time and money tugs at your heartstrings, knowing that there are people in need. Your efforts, though it may appear small, really benefits them. I know that working at a food bank for the past 4 months has given me a lot more empathy. I knew that there were a lot of people who were food insecure, but I didn’t realize how much until I read their stories or spoke with them on the phone (during the times I sometimes have to work at the front desk) and they needed help finding food or diapers for their baby. There are so many things you can do: volunteer a few hours a month at an animal shelter, or add your favorite charity into your budget. Like I mentioned, things could always be worse and you never know when you will ever need that helping hand yourself.

How do you resolve to stay thankful in 2018 and beyond?

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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