As the days in early November quickly and quietly pass us by, we are faced with the reality that the holidays are almost here. I won’t sugar coat it; we are approaching the most stressful time of the year. The holidays, while ideally filled with joy and glad tidings, are often coupled with or replaced by stress, sadness, anxiety, and even greed. Because this time of year is supposed to be about “giving,” we spend all of our time frantically running around trying to check items off our list and forget to focus on why we give in the first place.
I’m over it, y’all. The gifts I need this year aren’t tangible. What I need is more gratitude. If you’re like me, life often seems too hectic to take a moment and appreciate the fact that we’re living. The fact that we’re healthy. The fact that we are surrounded by people who love and support us. That’s what this time of year is really about. Gratitude.
When was the last time you thought about what you’re grateful for? If you can’t recall an instance, you’re not alone. Join me this holiday season for 30 Days of Gratitude. (And no, this is not an excuse for you to brag on social media about all the things you’re grateful for.) This is about being intentional in your thoughts and actions, and about appreciating everything you have.
Ready? Let’s get some gratefulness up in hurrrr!
Day 1: Make a list of what you’re grateful for
Easy, right? You can probably think of a few things off the top of your head to include. But what about the things we take for granted every day? Running water, a warm place to sleep, a job, fresh food, just to name a few. Your life is filled with more blessings than you realize. Write them down. 🙂
Day 2: Tell someone that you appreciate them
This could be a coworker, friend, family member, your significant other, heck, your barista at Starbucks for all I care! One of the 5 love languages is “words of affirmation.” As humans, we NEED to be affirmed, and when we affirm others, it’s typically reciprocated. Let someone know that they add value to your life.
Day 3: Do something you love
How often do we take our hobbies for granted? How often do those hobbies sometime turn into chores or obligations? In reality, we are so lucky to have the time and energy to do things we’re passionate about!
On day 3, focus on those passions. Read a book, go to the gym, sing, scrapbook, play with your dog, cook a meal from scratch. If it brings you joy, do it.
Day 4: Check in with an old friend
We love our friends, but during the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget to connect. Sometimes, this can cause friendships to dwindle. Today, reach out to an old friend – maybe someone from high school or college, to see how they are doing. And if your hesitation is that you think it’ll be weird or awkward, I guarantee that person has thought about doing the same to you! Reach out: you both will be glad you did!
Day 5: Give something away
Raise your hand if you have too much stuff! *raises both hands.* It’s so easy to collect objects over the years that we don’t even need. Do you really need 10 black shirts? Why do you have a fondue set that’s been in the box for two years? Spend some time going through your stuff and make a pile to donate. You’ll feel so much lighter knowing that you can detach yourself from material possessions and give them to people who need them the most.
Day 6: Give someone your time
As humans, we are naturally very stingy with our time. We have our own routines, our own tasks to get through during the day, and sometimes, we’re just looking out for #1. Today, when you come home and your spouse is talking to you about work – listen to them! Put down your phone, make eye contact and give them your undivided attention.
If a coworker comes to you with a problem, don’t try and multitask while talking to them. When you’re in the moment with that person, you’ll strengthen your relationship with them – and that’s something to be grateful for!
Day 7: Practice self care
I used to feel guilty about practicing self care, thinking that I was overindulging – that there were more productive things I could be doing with my time. Until, I realized that self care is a integral part of our busy lives.
So, what is it? “Self-care is the mindset, activities, practices and habits we bring to bear against stress, unhappiness, illness, depression and many more negative emotions”. When you are able to practice self care, you are less stressed, happier and more aware of the good things in your life.
You can practice self care on an emotional, physical, psychological, professional, spiritual and relational level. If you’re curious about self care or want examples of how you can use self care, here’s a great read for ya. Hint: it’s as easy as washing your face.
Day 8: Give back
Our life is filled with so many good things! Sometimes, we don’t even realize how good we have it, until we see those who aren’t as lucky. On day 8, find a way to give back. Donate to your favorite charity, bring a homeless person a hot meal, or pay it forward in the drive-thru line. Even a small act of charity can bring hope and happiness to someone’s day.
Day 9: Compliment a stranger
Remember when I talked about the importance of words of affirmation? Well, they work for everyone, not just those in your sphere of influence! Step beyond your circle, and maybe beyond your comfort zone, to compliment a stranger. This could be at the grocery store, on social media or even at the dentist. Everyone loves hearing that they have cute shoes, a nice smile or an infectious laugh. 🙂
Day 10: Give someone a small gift
Another one of the 5 love languages is “gifts.” I’m sure you’ve heard it said just about everywhere, but giving has some wonderful benefits for the giver AND the receiver.
Guys, even the Bible says “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
When you realize all that others do for you, it’ll be easy to repay the favor. Just imagine how your coworker would jump for joy if you brought them their favorite drink order and your significant other would literally die of happiness if you came home with their favorite snack. When you give even a little, you’ll get a LOT in return.
Day 11: Celebrate your abilities
I’m extremely guilty of taking myself for granted. I’m always pushing myself to be better – at my job, in my marriage, at the gym – everything! But, I rarely take time to appreciate who I am right now. Anyone relate?? Today, do something because you CAN.
Run – not because you like running, but because you have two legs that work perfectly and one day, when you’re older, even walking will be difficult. If you’re a singer, sing the heck outta your favorite songs. People would KILL to have a voice like yours! Read a book, because you have two eyes and the ability to read whatever and whenever you’d like. Today, celebrate what you CAN do and not what you can’t.
Day 12: Take time away from social media
I wish I could put this on every day of the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge! Even though social media is my job and it’s worked wonders for promoting this little blog, it can be all-consuming and even toxic at times. Social media puts you in a vulnerable spot because it often causes you to compare your life with others.
Taking regular breaks from social media will help you regain gratitude for your own life and focus on what matters most!
Day 13: Treat yourself
Similar to my previous lack of self care, I’ve realized that I don’t pay near enough attention to myself. I often let my wants and needs go unnoticed and just end up feeling really unfulfilled sometimes. If you’ve felt like this before, it might be time to indulge.
Treat yourself today to something that makes you happy – a new pair of fuzzy socks, a candy bar in the check out line at Target or even a manicure. YOU deserve it!
Day 14: Add to your list
At the two week mark, it’s time to evaluate the list you made on day one. Do you have anything to add? Have you been actively using it as a reminder when you’re having a rough day? Don’t forget, you have a lot to be grateful for. 🙂
Day 15: Share positivity
A little positivity goes a long way! In every interaction you have today, spread positivity. When faced with a tough situation or a setback, realize there is always a silver lining. Heck, even share something motivational or positive on social media. There is far too little positivity in this world – don’t contribute to the chaos.
Day 16: Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Practicing mindfulness can reduce blood pressure, reduce anxiety, improve mental clarity & focus, and even improve cognition.
My favorite way to practice mindfulness is with guided meditations. They can be as short as two minutes and can do wonders for your stress levels and your ability to focus. I highly recommend downloading the Sanity & Self app. They’ll teach you all about mindfulness and guide you through meditations that are specific to your needs.
Day 17: Take a break
Please take a break from your busy work day! And Don’t. Eat. Your. Lunch. At. Your. Desk! When we eat at our desk, we don’t pay attention to the food we’re eating. We don’t even look away from our computer screens! Being intentional about taking a break and enjoying your lunch is a great way to reset so you can return to whatever you’re doing refreshed and ready to rock the last half of your day.
Day 18: Appreciate the little things
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… these are a few of my favorite things!” Bless Julie Andrews and her angelic voice for teaching us to reflect on what we love. As you go through your day today, pay attention to the little things.
Check out the beautiful trees you’ve never noticed before on your morning commute or savor your favorite hot tea instead of gulping it down. Even appreciate the smell of your lunch in the microwave or the way it feels to snuggle deep down in your comforter after a long day. Sometimes, it’s all about the simple pleasures in life.
Day 19: Make plans with friends
Life is busy and making plans with others can get tricky when everyone is on a different schedule. But, it’s not impossible. Get a group of friends together for happy hour or pick a show on Netflix to binge watch. Making time for your friends shows them how much you care! And, can you imagine your life without them? Heck no! So, appreciate the joy they bring to your life by making regular plans with them.
Day 20: Leave a kind review
This one is fairly simple! If you have a favorite coffee shop or a clothing boutique that you frequent, it’s time to show them a little love! Leave them a kind review on their social media pages or on Google. Everyone loves being told that they’re doing a good job – especially those places where you tend to go often.
Day 21: Write a letter
Remember snail mail? Those rectangular paper things that you put in envelopes and put stamps on? Take a trip back in time and write a letter to a friend or family member. Getting mail is such a fun surprise! You will definitely brighten the recipient’s day and maybe they’ll even write you a letter back.
Day 22: Embrace your flaws
Hoooboy. Don’t exit out of this article just yet! I promise this is important. Everyone has flaws and insecurities. A lot of the time, we try to bury these flaws or get self-conscious when these flaws are brought into the light by others.
Today, it’s time to embrace your flaws. You are perfectly imperfect. Recognizing your flaws helps you take positive steps into correcting some of the ones you can change, and accepting the ones you can’t. *NO PHYSICAL FLAWS ALLOWED.
Need inspiration? Here are some of mine:
- I’m a perfectionist – to the point of over exhaustion
- I’m extremely stubborn
- I’m impatient
- I have trouble handling my emotions & the emotions of others
- Sometimes, I rely too much on intuition
Day 23: Practice self care (again)
Guys, it’s important all year round, but especially this time of year! Do something that restores your balance and helps you become a better you.
Day 24: Learn something new
Nobody knows it all. In fact, we all have a LOT to learn. As you learn more about the world around you, you become more accepting of others and more open-minded to unexplored thoughts or ideas. Take time to read about a topic you’re interested in, hone your skills at work or explore some of the latest news stories. The more you know, the more you grow, right? 😉
Day 25: Thank your parents
Yes, the people who gave you life! The people who raised you! (The people who put up with all your crap when you were a teenager.) How often do you tell them you love them? They have made countless sacrifices in their lives so that yours could flourish. Make sure you let them know how much that means to you.
Day 26: Recognize why you are lovable
If someone hasn’t told you already today, you are loved. Like SOOOO loved and you probably don’t even know how much!! It’s hard for me to realize that some days. Especially on the days when I don’t love myself all that much. (It happens to us all).
Today, make a list of why the people in your life love YOU. And no, you’re not bragging, you’re realizing your self-worth. And THAT’S a big deal. 🙂
Here are some of mine:
- I am empathetic
- My laugh is obnoxious, but it brings people joy
- I like to help people
- I am hardworking
- I (try to) motivate others to do/be better
- I tell corny jokes (especially puns)
- I have horrible dance moves
- I get wayyy too excited about the most random things
You get the gist. 🙂
Day 27: Recognize why someone else is lovable
Just as you have many attributes that make you lovable, so does everyone else! While this might be an easy exercise to complete with someone you’re close to – like your best friend or significant other – I’d like to challenge you to make a list for someone who you have conflict with. Recognizing their strengths and their positive attributes should re-humanize them in your eyes and help you to better connect with them.
Day 28: Add to your list
In your fourth week, and nearing the end of the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge, it’s time to once again reflect on that list you made on day one. It’s okay if you haven’t hit your goal every day. It’s okay to have bad days. But it’s not okay to give up! Keep adding to your list and appreciating the life you have.
Day 29: Appreciate the hard times
This one is really hard to wrap my head around. So hard that I almost didn’t include it. But, I think it’s important to realize that who we are now is the sum of all our experiences in life – the good and the bad.
While this may be emotional for many of us, take some time to reflect on the difficult times in your life. How have you changed because of those situations? You are a living testament that people can persevere through hardships. Remember, if you’re going through hell – keep going.
Day 30: Reflect
Take today to reflect on the past 30 days. What did you learn? How has your life changed? Are you happier? Maybe just more content? When you’re finished with your 30 days, feel free to share how this has impacted your life! Reach out to me here or DM me on Instagram.
If you learned one thing, I hope you learned that life is so beautiful and we have so much to be thankful for. I’m grateful for everyone who took the time to read this blog and embark on the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I hope you’ll enjoy the holiday season a little more because of it.
Happy Holidays from the ever-so-normal Abbey.