5 Tips for Cultivating Gratitude This Fall

A colourful Calhoun and Co throw drapes over the arm of a rattan chair in a comfy corner filled with light and plants

As the seasons change, the days shorten, and our time spent inside lengthens, our mindset can start to reflect the seasonal shift. This autumn, I’m making an effort to reset and reconnect with a positive mindset and I’m inviting you, the Scout community, to join me.

While I’ve never been someone who shies away from all the feels—I’m very familiar with crying on the TTC—a host of studies show that a positive mindset can make all the difference in cutting stress, increasing productivity, improving sleep quality, and increasing average lifespan, and who doesn’t want all that? In an effort to cultivate a little more gratitude into my schedule, I’ve gathered some actionable advice to focus in on my fortunes, encourage self-growth, and increase positivity.

Write Thank You Letters

As someone who both takes joy in writing intensely sentimental cards and hold a healthy amount of nostalgia for my childhood pen pal days, writing letters of gratitude sounds like the perfect rainy-day activity this fall. Writing letters of appreciation to others, whether they’re friends, neighbours, family, colleagues, or partners, helps to increase the awareness of the communities we are a part of, encouraging a feeling of wealth in togetherness. And while any good letter writer will tell you that one of the first rules of letters is to not expect a response, it stands to reason that telling someone that they are appreciated can strengthen relationships and positively influence feelings of self-worth in the recipient, further spreading those good vibes.

My friend recently gifted me the Letters to My Future Self booklet, which includes 12 letters with 10 prompts to get the ideas flowing. Between these letters, I’ll be working my way through a set of boxed thank you cards to send to those who have impacted me this year. If you’re short on time, you can still participate! Try using the Little Letters of Thanks booklet ($14.95, available in-stores only) that you can scroll out a quick heartfelt note when the moment strikes and work your way to longer-form letters when time permits later. When writing to others, focus on their positive attributes that you adore or admire them for and how they have impacted your day, year, or life. The wording doesn’t have to be perfect; the message just has to be genuine.

Flat lay of a person filling out a Little Letter of Thanks

Photo credit: Chronicle Books

Keep a Journal

Similar to writing a letter to yourself, journaling can help you to reflect on the people, places, and things you are grateful to have in your life. Here, I can struggle with motivation to write daily, as I feel I start to repeat everyday events that, while they spark joy, feel like they become a little mundane and repetitive if I write everyday. For me, the 52 Lists for Happiness journal ($16.95, in-stores and online) is the perfect prompt. It has helped me to think outside the regular day-to-day perks and further helped me to cultivate more moments for happiness through themed lists and easily actionable advice at the completion of each list. Developed by Moorea Seal to nurture self-expression and self-development, the 52 Lists Project collection of journals (plus the new planner!) are meant to be completed weekly, making the task easier to fit into a hectic lifestyle. An alternative for those who may find this too overwhelming may be the One Line a Day journal ($24.95, in-stores and online) that simply asks you to make note of one thing that made you smile that day, only one sentence required. A couple examples: I finished my coffee while it was still hot, I received a nice voicemail from an old friend, or I cuddled with my cat today.

Flat lay of 52 Lists for Happiness on a wooden table with a latte in soft morning light

Photo credit: Erin Torrance

Give Back to a Cause You Care About

Giving what you can to a cause that hits close to home can better shed a light on all that you have and how your abundance can contribute to creating an abundance for others. Whether you care deeply for the environment, animals, or people, contributing to something that strikes your heart is a positive way to help your heart grow.

While financial donations or volunteering often help many organizations the most, another way that you may be able to give to a cause you care about is to make conscious purchasing decisions to support companies that donate a portion of their profits to charities or nonprofits that align with your beliefs. Sydney Hale, for example, offers the most perfectly scented and evenly burning soy candles ($40 each, available in-stores and online) while contributing 10% of their profits to dog rescue . Purchasing a pair of Blue Q socks ($15.95-$17.95, in-stores and online) that you can donate to a charity or shelter not only gives an item to a shelter they’re often short on, but the company also donates a portion of its profits to support the humanitarian work of Doctors Without Borders. There are quite a few companies, many available at Scout, who have taken on this giveback structure that can make your dollars go even further, supporting a conscious company and an important cause.

Sydney Hale candle sitting on a window sill on a sunny summer day

Photo credit: Sydney Hale Co.

Show Appreciation for Your Favourite Memories

Creating a special way to store your memories in a format that you can regularly access them is an easy way to cultivate gratitude into your daily routine. Creating a gratitude board near your entranceway is an easy way to remind yourself of some highlights before leaving the house for the day. Personally, I’m excited to get a little creative with my Rifle Paper recipe tin ($45, Roncesvalles or online). Between recipes from friends and family members, I plan to add in photos and cards to remind me of the special moments associated with each or the relationships that surround these yummy dishes, making it the perfect memory tin that I’ll reach for regularly, rather than filing away into a closet. As a side note, while other recipe tins might do the trick for this idea, I can confirm that the Rifle Paper tin in particular offers the perfect dimensions to easily slide in standard cards and photos without bending or folding, making it even easier to keep these special memories in top condition.

Lilac Rifle Paper Co recipe tea featuring illustrations of herbs and flowers sitting amongst greenery

Photo credit: Rifle Paper Company

Take Time to Slow Down

While the next couple of months start to fill up with requests for social gatherings between work and growing to-do lists, this busier season is also a time to start getting comfortable with saying “no.” It’s okay to tell someone you’re busy in order to take time to do nothing but only what cultivates rest and relaxation. By taking time out to relax and seeing self-care as important work, we can better see an abundance of time and all we need, rather than feeling as though we lack time within all the hustle and bustle. Reminder to self: my work doesn’t speak to my value and a busy schedule does not equate to increased importance.

This season, I plan to turn off Netflix (every now and then, I know I cannot go cold turkey on TV), cozy up on the couch with a warm blanket, light a candle, and make more time for reading with a vinyl record playing in the background. This might not sound like the perfect evening of self-care to you, though, and that’s okay. The purpose of this time is to find something specific to you and schedule it in. If it does involve cozying up on the couch though, Calhoun & Co. make the perfect throws ($165, in-stores and online)—rainbows and raindrops is a personal favourite. 

What’s your favourite way to cultivate gratitude or slow down this season? Share your tips with us!

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