5 Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

The Five Best Paleontology Museums in Southern California
The Best Places to See in Houston: In Honor of the Bayou City

5 Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a (turkey) bone to pick with Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Thanksgiving. Most of the time I even like the execution of it. I enjoy the opportunity to come together with loved ones and focus on gratitude. The origins of the holiday irk me a bit, as well as the tendency to turn it into a day of gluttony (guilty), but I can at least get behind what it has come to represent.

Thankfulness. Gratitude. Empathy and goodwill, with a dash of family thrown in for good measure.

It’s a sentiment I think we could make gratitude a daily habit, practiced each and every day of our lives, not just on Thanksgiving. Pausing to take a moment and say “thank you” is important.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

 

Tara likes to say thank you to the entire world.

There are so many ways in which I’ve been lucky. My life has changed dramatically in the past few years, and I’ve had some of my highest highs and my lowest lows. The worst days wouldn’t have been manageable without the gratitude I feel for my best days.

So, with that sentiment, I’d like to share a few simple ways in which I make gratitude my daily habit, rather than a yearly reminder. Can you add to the list?

Five Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

Remind yourself to reflect

Our phones remind us of a lot these days. They remind us to exercise more, to eat less, to answer that e-mail and to update your Facebook status.

There’s nothing wrong with notifications (though sometimes they do become overwhelming), but shouldn’t you make sure that your notifications are working to help you, rather than stress you out?

I’ve turned most of my notifications off over the year. My e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter notifications no longer exist, and as a result I feel so much less stressed. There is one notification I kept, though.

Through If This Then That (ITTT) I have my phone set up to automatically text me two times every day.

The first text arrives around dinner time, and simply says, “What three things are you grateful for?” This usually inspires me to ask whoever I’m around (Tara, typically) the same question, and initiates a conversation based around gratitude.

The second text arrives about an hour before my bedtime, and it says, “Journal time! Jot down one positive experience you had today.”

Both of these texts serve as reminders, urging me to focus on the positive in my life. They come through even on my worst days, and sometimes it’s just what I need.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

You may not be here, but you can bring your mind here.

Set positive routines

When I first started working from home I was a bit of a mess. Not used to setting my own schedule I slept in, stayed up late, and avoided certain projects that didn’t excite me. Instead of putting my head down and focusing I found myself surfing for my next airline ticket.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle. No matter how good you are at travel hacking, you still need to spend some money. Also rent. I had to pay rent.

So I established a routine. I set aside an hour in the mornings to go for a walk, stretch, eat breakfast, and write out my to-do list for the day. I worked a clear lunchtime into my schedule, and set aside time in the evening to focus on exploring or spending time with loved ones, rather than working until I collapsed.

By keeping to my schedule I felt less like I was running around, trying to do ten things at once. I was more productive while still taking time to create those memorable moments that fuel my sense of thankfulness.

It’s a lot easier to make gratitude a daily habit when you’re not stressed out.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

If left to my own devices, I’d never stop working.

Talk to your loved ones

Whether “loved ones” means friends, family, or a little bit of both, it’s important to nurture what positive connections you already have. As an introvert who spends a lot of time traveling, I’m not often around my friends and family (except Tara, who somehow has yet to get sick of me). This means that I have to work a little bit to make sure my relationships stay strong.

I try to talk to my mom several times a week. I text and Skype with my friends from Houston and Cleveland, the two places I’ve lived the longest. While I’m certainly not perfect at keeping in touch, and keeping up with everyone all the time would drive me bonkers, the simple act of reaching out, even once in a while, is a great reminder of the people who have had a lasting impression on your life.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

Checking the Grand Canyon off my mom’s bucket list

Give back whenever you can

In whatever way makes sense to you, contribute to a cause you’re passionate about. Whether that means donating your money, time, belongings, blood, or anything else (you really can donate just about anything these days).

As travelers, the opportunities to give back are endless. Even if you’re stuck on your couch at home, though, you can find some way to make a difference. Studies show that people who take an active role in helping others are happier over the long-term.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

Tara doing what she does best — digging in the dirt.

Practice Mindfulness

Being in the moment is hard sometimes. There are always a million things to do, a million places to go, and a million things to see. I think this is especially true for travelers, families, and entrepreneurs. I know that I often feel like I’m running at breakneck speed, with no chance of catching myself if I fall.

Enter mindfulness. Whether you’re a full-blown meditation guru or a total skeptic, there is something to be said for taking a moment to really connect with a specific moment in time. I try to make a habit of this, especially when I’m traveling. Tara talks about these techniques in the context of living with anxiety, but I think it’s an essential skill for everyone.

Stop. Breathe. Connect.

Be thankful. Daily.

Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

It’s amazing what you see when you remember to look.

How do you make gratitude a habit?

As we enter into another busy holiday season, how are you going to cultivate a mindset of thankfulness that extends beyond turkey dinner (I’m looking at you, U.S. readers)? What do you already do to make gratitude a daily habit? I’d love to hear your own tips in the comments.

The Five Best Paleontology Museums in Southern California
The Best Places to See in Houston: In Honor of the Bayou City