When you’re feeling thankful or appreciative of a person, place, thing, or event, that’s gratitude.
It’s the warm and fuzzy sensation in your heart, the smile on your face, and even the tears running down your face. It’s the space to breathe when the weight of your burdens are lifted from your shoulders.
Gratitude is a beautiful, positive-energy emotion.
It’s how we notice, honor, and validate the good things in our lives—big or small. You can be grateful for something as minute as finding a matching pair of socks when you’re in a hurry, or as epic as having your life saved.
Too often, we get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to take time to show our gratitude to others and to ourselves. We begin to take for granted all the little things that make our days better. The ease that is provided by the basics begins to feel as if we’re entitled to them, so we no longer count them as the blessings that they truly are. This is why being called ungrateful is an insult—it says that we’re no longer appreciative of the gifts bestowed upon us.
For most of us, basics like food, clean water, a warm and safe home, and access to the internet are a given. We don’t have to worry about it, because they’re always there. The problems that we’re presented with tend to be on an entirely different scale, so we focus on those. Because we don’t worry about the basics, they blend into the background of our lives…until something disrupts their availability.
This is where a gratitude practice comes into play.
Remember, gratitude itself is noticing and appreciating the good aspects of your life. Taking time to stop, check in with yourself, and give thanks for all of the positives—big or small—can have beneficial effects that span over your whole life! Those with a gratitude mindset report having more positive emotions overall, are able to meet their goals of being more kind and productive, and are better able to manage the challenges that come into all of our lives at some point.
Having a gratitude practice is the meaning behind the phrase, “Stop and smell the roses”.
Let’s talk about some of the ways you can integrate a gratitude practice into your life:
Start a gratitude journal. Each morning, take five minutes to write down three things that you’re grateful for. It can be something as simple as a nice dream you had. Remember, this isn’t a test and there are no wrong answers. If you find yourself struggling to get a journaling practice started, try buying a beautiful notebook like this one or a new set of pens to inspire you.
Set aside mindful moments to recall positive experiences. Taking a couple of minutes near bedtime to sit with the good aspects of your day is a beautiful way to build your gratitude practice. You can reflect on the day while you do the dishes, fold laundry, or even just sit in your favorite chair and close your eyes.
Put visual reminders in charming places. I have a client who has a gratitude bell in the doorway leading from her living room to her kitchen. It’s a small, round bell hanging on a beautiful ribbon at eye level. Whenever she passes it, she can take a second to give it a little tap. The jingle even adds a bonus auditory reward!
Show your gratitude to others. A great example of this is a simple ‘thank you’ whenever a stranger holds open a door for you. You can also post things for which you’re grateful on social media, write a letter to someone you’re thankful for, or even send them a small token of your appreciation. Showing your gratitude to another person for a kindness they’ve done for you reinforces the positive feeling they’ve gotten from helping you. And sharing your gratitude for others to see can remind them of what they’re grateful for. Small drops in the waters of change can create big, beautiful ripples in the universe.
Be kind to yourself.
You may not remember to do your gratitude practice every day, and that’s okay. When you do remember to get yourself back on the thankful track, a great way to honor yourself is to add ‘I’m grateful to myself for doing this gratitude practice’ to your list for the day!
Again, your gratitude practice is not a test. You’re not going to be thankful for the wrong things, as long as you’re grateful for that which makes your mind, body, and spirit more at ease. We’d never give thanks for world hunger, but we would appreciate having the ability to share a meal with a friend.
What are you grateful for today? I’d love to celebrate your positives with you!
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
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