Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Thanksgiving is over, and with it, all the good happy feelings of gratitude that the day engenders. That one day a year, everyone gets along a little better. We all spend time talking about the things that make us grateful…and then, before the day is even at a close, our focus shifts to how much money we can save buying out retailers before Christmas.

Away goes gratitude, not to be dusted off again until the next Thanksgiving.

But Gratitude is something I think we should all learn to embrace more than just once a year. People who learn to live with gratitude often find themselves more satisfied in their daily lives, with stronger feelings of well-being and self-worth, which dominoes into boosts of confidence and motivation.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have time for deep meditation and reflection on the subject, and being grateful is easier to talk about than to do, but for us, living with gratitude was a habit we started when we realized that our kids never seemed to be satisfied with what they had, even when what they had seemed like an awful lot to us. So, the message started to be, to our kids and to ourselves, “be grateful for what you have.” It was a way to counterbalance the “I wants” and the “thanks for this, now can I have…”

In order to make that work, we had to learn to do the same ourselves. Living with gratitude can become an ingrained habit in your life with a little practice, and it works as both a way to see the happiness already in our lives and as a way to keep us from being tempted into buying something we don’t really need.

How do you learn to live with gratitude?

The first step is to transform negatives to positives. Instead of seeing the worst in any situation, believe that what happens to you happens for a reason, and find the positive in the situation. It’s not always easy, and you may have to mentally coach yourself, but seeing the positive is a great first step toward living with gratitude.

The next step is to make a daily habit out of the Thanksgiving tradition of expressing what you’re thankful for. Start each day being grateful for the things that make your life better – the modern conveniences that allow you to connect with family across the country; the perfect cup of coffee your husband has ready for you every morning, the hugs you get from your kids before they head to school. End the day the same way, with reflection on the parts of the day that brought you joy and made you smile.

Learning to live with gratitude is an exercise that is as important to your mind as a cardio workout is to your heart. Make a conscious effort to recognize every day the things you are grateful to have in your life.

What are you grateful for?