I had a temper tantrum today.
You might think that it was directed towards my children, or maybe even my husband, but it wasn’t. I had a temper tantrum over my new haircut which I dislike very much. At least, that’s what it was about when I started.
But in the middle of it, I realized I was completely venting about every single thing I felt to be wrong in my life. Looking back on it now, it bordered on the ridiculous. I’m not really sure why I let myself spiral into such a state—my hair really doesn’t look that bad! But the fact is, I did.
I suppose we all have our little temper tantrum moments where it’s really hard to see the good in anything, right? I mean, I hope I’m not the only 40-something year old mom who feels the need to let the negativity loose sometimes!
After I got myself settled down, I realized that I haven’t been actively practicing gratitude lately. Gratitude is pretty powerful and I’ve learned that it has the capability of stopping temper tantrums in their tracks. I use the gratitude trick on my children all the time, and I have seen the power it has over temper tantrums, complaining, and negativity.
More positivity and fewer temper tantrums is only one of the many benefits of gratitude! I decided to look it up, and I found this article which is full of charts and scientific studies and graphs that show the many, many benefits of being more grateful. Read it if you have a moment because it’s very interesting, and it will make you want to cultivate the habit of gratitude.
I like to think of gratitude as a muscle—you’ve got to use it in order to keep it strong! I’ve let mine atrophy a bit in the past little while, and its showing.
Practicing gratitude isn’t hard, but you do have to make time for it and remember to do it—just like every other habit. I’ve come up with a few ways to practice more gratitude in my life, and you can bet I’ll be adding them to my morning routine ASAP. No more ridiculous temper tantrums for me!
4 Ways to Practice Gratitude
1. Write in a gratitude journal every day
I used to do this at the end of the day, but I’m feeling like beginning my day thinking of the things I’m grateful for might be better. It might not matter at all, though. Mostly, it’s just important to do it.
The act of writing things down makes things feel a little more real to me, so I like the idea of the gratitude journal. I could think of things I’m thankful for, or just say them out loud, but the permanent record of a written list appeals to me. Just five minutes a day writing in a gratitude journal can change the way you think, make you a happier and kinder person, increase your productivity, and even help you sleep better!
2. Say thank you often
Make it a point to thank people often and thoughtfully. Often we say “thanks” without really pausing to think about whether or not we actually feel gratitude. Start pausing and letting yourself actually feel thankful for whatever it is you just received from another person.
Writing thank you notes is another way to be sure you are saying thank you often. When you write them, really express true gratitude—don’t just write it out of obligation.
Another way to say thank you often is via prayer. Often our prayers are full of requests, but try to make yours more full of gratitude instead. My daughter Chloe is an expert at this. In her prayers she thanks God for the carpet, her backpack, the bird that is singing outside, and even her trials. She always thinks of a long list of things to thank her Heavenly Father for in her prayers.
3. Hang a visual reminder
Whether you just write the words “Be Grateful” on a piece of paper and stick it on your mirror, or buy a lovely piece of home decor—like this wood sign—sometimes just having the visual reminder to stop and be grateful makes all the difference. Tell yourself that whenever you notice the sign that you will think of one thing you are grateful for right now.
4. Fake it until you make it
I didn’t feel much gratitude this morning while I was in the throes of my temper tantrum. If that’s where you’re starting, that’s fine. Fake it ’til you make it. The gratitude will show up in your heart eventually, even if you aren’t feeling it when you start.
If your tantrum is over hair like mine was, you could turn it around and say out loud, “I am grateful I have hair,” or “I am grateful I could afford to pay for a haircut,” or even “I am grateful that hair grows!” Try to find something—anything—about the situation that you can be thankful for, and you’ll be amazed at how your attitude begins to change.
My attitude today did change because I decided to start being more grateful. I suppose it isn’t really a miracle, but it sure did feel like one today!
Small Habit: Practice gratitude daily.
Big Difference: Be happier, be kinder, throw fewer temper tantrums, be more productive, be healthier.
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