I can speak for myself when I say I rarely have time to sit back and just be mindless, not think of all the tasks and chores and a to do list. I wanted to talk about gratitude because I realized that those of us, who are busy, rarely slow down and reflect upon things. We are often too occupied to sit back and reflect upon our lives. In those times when we actually have the chance to sit down and think back we have the chance to stop ourselves and realize that days, months, years have been irreversibly passing. Then, we often ask ourselves, where did the time go??
In my clinical experience, I often saw a positive shift in a client’s mindset when talking about gratitude. Expressing gratitude has changed the way I view things and how that allowed me to slow things down.
Gratitude, right? Sounds cheesy but here are some of the benefits of it. Those, who regularly practice gratitude by taking their time to notice or reflect upon the things they are thankful for, tend to feel more alive, have more positive emotions and express more compassion for others. It was even discovered that it boosts immune system and improves sleep. The fun thing about practicing gratitude is that you do not have to devote extensive periods of time to do it and you do not have to reserve time for momentous occasions. It can be done anywhere and at anytime.
Often times, we are grateful for a nice promo at work or for a nice house or car that we own. I want you to go even deeper and focus on those precious moments you have every morning when you wake up, even for the chance that you were given by just waking up and being healthy. I want you to challenge yourself even a step further and be thankful for the fact that you have food on your table and for all the hard work it took for that food to arrive on your table each day. Think about all the hard work it took for that food to appear in your fridge: the farmers that needed to harvest their fields, people who work in factories who were able to make your food and for those drivers who were able to deliver that food to your store. You can let your imagination take you anywhere you want to go with this but in those moments where you find yourself reflecting upon those things, you are also learning how to be mindful.
After reading this you would think that those benefits are compelling enough to motivate you into action. But if you are anything like me, this motivation lasts about a week until practicing gratitude is lost to watching new series of shows. I encourage you then to challenge yourself and consistently practice gratitude for 30 days. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit and 3 days to break it. So let’s maintain this good habit for the long haul. Here are some ways to practice gratitude:
Morning drink gratitude: While you are enjoying your morning cup of coffee/tea/juice, just spend a few minutes thinking of all the things you are grateful for. If that is a challenge, start with enjoying the warmth or coldness of the drink you are holding, the aroma of the drink, the first sip, and the beginning of a new day that may be full of promises
Things you take for granted: Let’s try to focus on all the things we do take for granted, our ability to walk, hear, see, hear or having anything that gives you comfort. Consider not having any of those things and then step by step practice being grateful for having all of our senses being fully functional
Questions to ask yourself: Anther great way to bring gratefulness to the forefront is by asking yourself those 4 questions:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What touched me today?
- Who or what put a smile on my face?
- What is the best thing that happened to me today?
Gratitude inventory: Create a list of things you are grateful for. If you find that a bit challenging, you can divide that list into categories (but don’t limit yourself):
- People (your relationships)
- Assets (things that you have)
- Experiences (thing’s you have done, places you have seen)
- Personal qualities
Practice to put things in perspective: Life is challenging and things will not always go your way. In those moments when things go wrong you can use the power of gratitude to release some of those negative emotions that you may be feeling. After a negative experience, learn to put things in perspective by remembering that “every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” – Napoleon Hill. When faced with a challenging moment, ask yourself:
- What can I learn from this?
- What’s good about this?
- Is there something about this occurrence that I can be grateful for?
- How can I benefit from this?
Gratitude journal: Before going to bed each night, write a list of three things about that day for which you are grateful. Some days you will have exciting things to write down and some days you will be talking about simple joys.
The key of practicing gratitude is to be consistent. Now that you know how to start practicing gratitude, I want to encourage you to start today. Why not begin by living a happier, more enjoyable life by using tools that we are capable of learning and setting a part of our routine. As Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
All the best,