Offering Grace: Simple Gratitude Practices

Sometimes I wonder what my boys will be like as grown-ups. Will they be funny like their dad? Will they find work they love? Will they discover the joys of reading for pleasure? Most of all, I hope they find ways of being happy, even in the difficult times. And by happy I don’t mean the superficial kind of feeling that comes and goes depending on circumstances. More than anything, I hope they find the kind of happy that comes from living a good life with good people, a life filled with a sense of meaning and deep contentment.

During November, we often spend time focusing on the things we are thankful for.
Although it’s nice to count your blessings and name them one-by-one at Thanksgiving,
we know that practicing gratitude year-round has tremendous benefits for our quality of
life. (Really smart scientists are telling us this. You can learn more about the science by
visiting the Greater Good Science Center website.) Not only do grateful people have better physical and mental health, they also have greater empathy and lower levels of stress. Maybe most appealing for worn-out mamas, grateful people also sleep better!

Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace or gratefulness. That makes sense to me. When I approach the world with a sense of gratitude, I offer grace
to my family, my co-workers, and the little people in my world.

When I practice gratitude, I look for sweet moments and thoughtful actions. Some days, I might have to look carefully to find those instances of kindness. Other days, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of my life and the folks around me. And the more I practice noticing, the better I get at it.

So, how can we add gratitude practices to our already busy lives? Here are some
simple ideas.

1. When you’re waiting in the car, take a minute to identify something you feel
grateful for in that moment, in that place.
2. Add gratitude to mindfulness practices. Name something you are grateful for that
engages each of your five senses.
3. Add a visual reminder of gratitude to a place you visit daily—your bathroom
mirror, the coffee pot, or even the powder room.
4. Create or find a grace reminder to use as the wallpaper for your phone or
computer. Adobe Spark or Canva are two easy tools to try.
5. Ask your kids for help. They are good at remembering things you forget.

I find that I am easier to myself in my mind when I offer grace. I’m less critical of myself and more open to others. In the process, I usually recognize that the source of goodness lies mostly outside myself. What a relief to know that it’s not all up to me.

As I look at my boys, I want to see them through the lens of gratitude. Maybe they’ll get
that from me.

Beth is mom to a high school sophomore and a first year college student. After fourteen years as a professional writer and editor, she earned graduate degrees in counseling and play therapy. Now she exercises her creativity as a school counselor. Beth loves reading, especially mysteries.