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Cultivating Gratitude

Tis the season for tangled lights, awkward family interactions, and the yearly quandary of gift-giving. But even a small dose of mindful gratitude can smooth some of the tangles, help us find compassion for ourselves and others, and just lower the overall stress level we often experience.

Cultivating gratitude is a powerful yet simple practice that can significantly enhance our well-being and overall outlook on life. Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine can foster a positive mindset, improve relationships, increase productivity, and contribute to a more fulfilling life. It can also help you cope with difficult circumstances. Following are some simple practices you can try to help you cultivate gratitude, not just during this season but all year round. Pick a few that speak to you, try them out for a while, then try one or two that weren’t on your “first choice” list.
Morning Practice - Reflect on what you are grateful for in your life. Start your day with this reflection.
Find Time to Be in Nature - It can be the beach, the woods, a park, or a favorite hiking trail – anywhere you can connect with the natural world and the beauty and calm it can bring to your senses.
Volunteer - Helping others (humans or otherwise) in need may bring a fresh perspective to your own life and carve a pathway to being grateful for what you have. 

Guided Gratitude Meditation - Apps such as Calm, Aura, Breathe and others offer guided meditations focused on appreciation and can go a long way to promote inner peace. 
Digital Detox - Consciously disconnect from the constant stream of information coming electronically. It may help you appreciate the simple joys around you. Try not to make this inconvenient or painful….we all know how much we rely on our phones, tablets, etc. Just set aside 30 or 60  (or more) minutes a day to turn it all off.
Find a Gratitude Buddy - Partner with a friend or relative to briefly share a daily gratitude. Once a day or twice a week – it doesn’t matter, just commit to a regular exchange with each other to share what you are grateful for in your life.
Mindful Eating - Try a meal without talking, reading, checking your phone, etc. Focus on the flavor of your food and appreciate the nourishment your meals provide. 

Learn from Challenges - Try to reflect on challenges as opportunities for personal growth. Appreciate your own determination and resilience, even when things are difficult.
End-of-Day Reflection - Even the toughest days may hold bits of time for something positive. Before going to sleep at night, find one of these things and agree with yourself to appreciate even a small, but positive interaction or moment. Close your day with this thought as you prepare for sleep.
Mike Mannion, CSA, CDP, CPRS
Certified Senior Advisor ®
Senior Care Authority

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