5 Easy Ways to Live in the Moment and Show Appreciation
Read Time: 2-3 Minutes
With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the stressors of the season—the never-ending party circuit, potentially awkward family reunions, and tiring travel. But taking a little time to evaluate the good in our lives can give us a fresh perspective and allow us to slow down rather than just anticipate our upcoming plans or check off the next box on the to-do list. Here are five easy ways to cultivate gratitude during this busy time of the year.
Send out some holidays cards.
Whether you’re already a bona fide stationary queen or haven’t written a longhand letter since you were a child, sitting down and writing out some thoughtful holiday cards is a great way to reconnect with loved ones and extend your gratitude. There’s nothing like getting a nice letter in the mail, especially for friends and family members who live far away or are spending holidays alone. So go buy some cute holiday greetings and see where your creativity and words may lead (you’ll also get some much needed digital detoxing in).
Just ten minutes of journaling a day can have a huge impact on how we react to stressors, view our relationships, and set goals for ourselves. Try writing down a couple of things each day that you’re thankful for—whether it’s having a friend to laugh with at work, the always cheerful coffee barista at your favorite cafe, or hearing your favorite song on your way home from a long day.
Studies have shown that people who keep a gratitude journal have a greater sense of calm at the end of each day and report fewer feelings of stress than those who don’t. Carve out a few minutes in the evening that you’d usually spend scrolling through social media feeds and watch your happiness soar.
Recognize the usefulness of negative emotions.
It’s hard to feel grateful when your train is delayed and your siblings are arguing at the dinner table, but recognizing the value in negative situations and emotions is just as beneficial as seeing the value in the good. When you’re feeling agitated or impatient, try your best to sneak a moment to yourself, take a few deep breaths, and evaluate whether or not there’s something to be learned from the situation. Finding ways to grow from conflict will help put things in perspective.
Surround yourself with gracious people.
We are who we surround ourselves with; married couples who hang out with happy couples are more likely to have healthy relationship themselves, people who have friends who work out daily rather than going to happy hour are more likely to cultivate healthy routines, and so on.
Nurturing relationships that make us feel fulfilled, grateful, and loved are key to our overall sense of happiness. Maybe there’s a friend of a friend who sends out great vibes who you’d love to get to know; don’t be afraid to reach out and explore that friendship. Figure out what it is you value most in your relationships—shared creative interests, a positive outlook, a sympathetic ear—and focus on filling your life with the people who make you feel good.
Help someone in the way someone helped you.
Think back on the people who have most helped you become who you are today (jotting these names down is also great for your gratitude journal!) and how good it felt to know you had people looking out for you. Whether it be an old professor, childhood friend, or babysitter, there are tons of people in our lives who have helped us along our journey, and tons of ways we can return that same favor.
So call up a friend you know needs an ear, offer to help a co-worker with extra work, or extend a broader reach; look into local volunteering opportunities in your area and see how you can get more involved. Lending a hand will increase your own sense of meaning.
There’s a lot to manage during this time of the year, and it can be a challenge to find the time to unwind, live in the moment, and be grateful for where we are. By incorporating these easy exercises of gratitude into your day-to-day, you’ll be better able to appreciate the season for what it’s meant to be—a time to be grateful for our friends and family, give thanks for what we have, and strive toward kindness and beauty in all aspects of our lives.