These are troubling times. Uncertain times. The war in Ukraine seems infinite, the Israel-Hamas war escalates daily and the shooting in Maine is just the latest – an ABC news headline from October 26 states, “There have been more mass shootings than days in 2023.” The count is 565 for 2023 and we’ve got two months left in the year.
October is usually a month for celebrating. Cooler days are here and the day of candy and costumes is on the horizon. The mood ramps up in November and we start thinking about all the things and people for which we are grateful. The conversations we’re hearing this week are a little different though. How do we celebrate, how do we practice and find joy when so much seems so perilous? Can we even do it? Is it okay?
What we’re seeing is that connection, joy, kindness and gratitude are even more necessary now. That it’s not just okay, but imperative.
So how do we practice gratitude and why should we, now especially?
WHY PRACTICE GRATITUDE, ESPECIALLY NOW
According to Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
It seems like now is a good time for us to do things that make us feel positive, to bask in experiences that bring us joy and to build deep, connected relationships.
The stronger our communities and our supportive relationships, the more we can dig deep and experience and express things that delight us, that make our hearts feel full instead of fearful. The more we can share what we love and value in others, the stronger we will be to face a world that will surely continue to be uncertain.
HOW TO START A GRATITUDE PRACTICE
There’s no right or wrong way to practice gratitude. If you take all the wisdom out there, it comes down to one thing.
Write it down. Every day. Three, five, 10, 20 gratitudes. Whatever works for you. But do it and do it consistently.
You can use a journal, sticky notes, your bathroom mirror, texts to a friend. It really doesn’t matter as long as you get your gratitude down in writing.
1. Find a spiral notebook, beautiful journal, a pad of stickies or a pocket sized notebook that you will enjoy writing in.
2. Get a pen you like.
3. Every night, before bed, just after you brush your teeth or do something else routine, take 5-10 minutes and write down at least three things for which you are grateful.
4. Make these things specific. Get detailed about who and why you’re grateful. “I’m grateful for my partner bringing me flowers and cooking dinner for me when I felt bad this week,” will sink into your brain and be more effective than, “I’m grateful for my partner.”
TIPS FOR TURNING GRATITUDE INTO A HABIT
1. Set an alarm for the first 21 days. According to Charles Duhigg’s research for The Power of Habit, it takes our brains 21 days to form a new one.
2. Do your gratitude practice right before or right after something you do every morning or every night. (We suggest nighttime because mornings have a way of getting away from us. ) So whether it’s brushing your teeth like we said above, or putting your kids to bed, or getting a glass of water. Doesn’t matter, just connect your gratitude list to something you do every night, without fail. It will be easier to create the habit.
3. If you forget or have a hard time getting started, go easy on yourself. Building a practice takes time. Just keep at it, even if you miss a few days.
AT HASSETT HARDWARE WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR
1. Every single customer who chooses to come into our family-owned store and buy something from us instead of somewhere else.
2. All our employees, the young ones, the old ones and the ones in between who show up, day after day, wanting to learn and wanting to be helpful.
3. The unknown people who make it all go around – the people who design the software that makes our registers work, the ones who make our products, the ones who get them shipped to us and all the others who make what we do possible.
We’d love to hear how you practice gratitude @hassettacehardware.