1. Keep a gratitude journal.
We should start with the most basic assumption. Just the fact that Oprah likes it makes it number one. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you shift your focus from what you lack to what you have, and vice versa. The hope is that if you keep going down this neuropathic path, you’ll eventually find that your mind gravitates toward feelings of gratitude rather than self-pity.
The key to successfully maintaining a gratitude journal is to arrange your life so that it becomes second nature. Determine a regular time of day to write in your journal, choose a notebook you won’t mind looking at every day, and keep it by your bed. Don’t drag it out. A simple list can serve as a crutch when the day inevitably kicks you when you’re down.
2. Have your mantras handy.
Make use of your computer’s and phone’s backgrounds as well as your physical work environment to serve as constant reminders to think positively. Where have all the Post-Its that used to be stuck to mirrors in public restrooms gone? You’ll start to believe it after a while.
3. Invest where it counts the most.
Each dollar you spend can make a difference. Unlike purchasing preserves from a farmers market, paying your Comcast bill is unlikely to be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. Even though you could buy a box of screws from Amazon, why not give your community a boost by going to the hardware store instead? Supporting local merchants is a great way to get involved in your neighbourhood and brighten the day of a stranger. When you inevitably make a mistake during your bathroom renovation and realise Amazon.com doesn’t give a youknowwhat, you’ll be even more grateful to have such wonderful, caring, knowledgeable business owners in your neighbourhood.
4. Be polite even if it seems you don’t have to be.
The zipper merge is severely underutilised in certain regions of Minnesota, so be sure to wave at the person who let you merge when you really shouldn’t have. Don’t interrupt a server who’s asking how you are by asking what the soup of the day is. Help the grumpy old man through the door. The devil is in the details. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed on the person to whom you extend it.
5. Send $5 to a pal on Venmo.
Saying something along the lines of, “Today, I’ll buy your coffee. I’m crazy about you.
6. Take a breather just before eating.
Not into the whole praying thing? Really, that’s awesome. Take a moment before shoving that tomato into your mouth to remember that a farmer grew it, a driver transported it to the co-op, a worker put it on the shelves, and your partner went grocery shopping on Tuesday because your meeting ran long. Three meals a day will have more significance if you take your time and appreciate the work that went into preparing them. It is never too early to show kindness, because you never know when it will be too late. Emerson, Ralph Waldo.
7. Perform a full body check.
You can’t even feel your heart beating because your blood is pumping so fast. Whether you are conscious or not, air continues to enter your lungs. If you’re feeling ungrounded, try this: Put your body on the floor and feel how it presses down. The cellulite/acne/weight complaints will go away if you focus on the big picture basics, such as the fact that your legs allow you to walk from room to room, your fingers can write love notes, and your arms can cradle a baby.
8. You should save surprises
A pebble from a beach in Portugal is buried somewhere in my handbag. I find it about once a week and every time I do, I remember the sunny days and refreshing caipirinhas. As bookmarks, I use business cards collected during my travels. You can always count on these little bright spots to appear right when the universe knows you could use them. Don’t forget to thank future you by leaving reminders in the margins of your books, on your phone, or in your calendar.
9. To express your appreciation, decorate a tree.
I hate to break it to you, but the newest ornaments at Target are totally saccharine. Consider following the example of a friend of mine who uses polaroids of his friends to decorate his Christmas tree. This is so cute. It’s almost too cute to take down at the end of the holiday season.
10. Fill your home with things you care about.
The last thing I look at every day before I leave the house is a picture of my goddaughter from before she started school. I have a homemade Valentine from a kid tucked away in my wallet. A napkin with a doodle my faraway friend made for me is deteriorating in a frame. I’m snuggled under a blanket my mom crocheted for me.
Now do you see what I mean? Small, physical tokens of affection are constant reminders of the people and things that give your life meaning. That pebble from the Portuguese beach made it here, and for that I am grateful. To all my friends, may this holiday season bring you comfort and joy.