Having a gratitude practice can shift your life. When I was growing up, I heard constant complaining, and constant negativity. I never heard the term grateful, or heard the word gratitude. The more we complain, gossip or discuss negativity, the more we attract this into our lives. We may think that this is helping us feel better, but it normally just makes us feel worse. When we compare ourselves to others, and think in terms of what we lack, then our mood can shift into a downward spiral. When we focus on what we have, and all that is working in our life, our mood shifts upward. For the past few years I have had a gratitude practice, and every morning my 3 year old daughter, and I share what we are grateful for. Even on days when I am not feeling grateful, I still do this practice, and it helps me feel at peace.
Finding gratitude is not always easy when we feel stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. Even though we all know we have so much to be grateful for, our normal human behavior is to focus on what is not working, what we do not have, and what we are lacking. The shift to gratitude takes practice.
Gratitude is a trait that is developed over time with consistency. There are so many benefits of practicing gratitude. Some benefits you experience are:
- Develop more positive emotions
- Feel more alive and joyful
- Sleep better
- Have more compassion and kindness
- Strong immune system
How do we switch our behavior, beliefs, and actions to a state of gratitude? When I was working at a drug and alcohol recovery center, each morning the clients would write ten things they were grateful for. I encouraged them to be specific with their gratitude. For instance, if they wrote I am grateful for my boyfriend, I would ask them to write down why, or to expand on one nice small gesture he did that week. The more we focus on specific experiences that make us feel grateful, the more we deeply feel gratitude.
Another option for those that do not want to journal is speaking your gratitude. For two years now, every morning I message one of my friends, and we share for two minutes specific things we are grateful for. I love this practice because I can do it anywhere, anytime, and I have a friend to hold me accountable. Plus I learn so much from listening to her gratitude. It gives me more ideas of things to be grateful for that I did not think of before.
I encourage you when you get out of bed in the morning to put your feet on the ground and say “I am blessed.” Take a few minutes to stand or sit and visualize your day and how grateful you are for it.
Just to recap, here are some ways you can focus on being grateful each day:
- Write a gratitude journal
- Talk and tell a friend each day for two minutes
- Wake up and say “I am blessed in the morning.” Then think of all the things you are grateful for.
I hope you find a gratitude practice that works for you. I hope you realize that life is not always going to be easy or perfect, but that life is truly a gift that we can be grateful for.