There is so much to be grateful for, and most of us take it for granted. I know I do. Like many people, I have a lot of things in my life I wish I could change. This is why this week I am trying to focus on gratitude.
Once considered an insubstantial practice, the practice of gratitude has shown interesting benefits.
Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.
Of course, it also feels better than constantly thinking about what you don’t have; that’s what I try to remind myself, anyway. It is always tempting to worry and stress about what you don’t have, not realizing that the more you think about that, the more you are impeding your forward progress.
Believe me, I struggle with this myself. But I am trying to force myself to “look at the bright side”. Here are some methods for doing this:
It sounds so Oprah, (for the record, I applaud Oprah’s efforts to bring spirituality and “self help” into the forefront in popular culture) but gratitude journaling is not just a silly self help thing. There are indeed proven scientific benefits. Also, it’s a nice way to be mindful and connect with your life on a daily basis.
The list of things you are grateful for doesn’t have to be “big things”. It can be something as small as a great cup of tea, talking to friends, or nice weather.
Making the process fun is important. Granted, I don’t keep a gratitude journal (I stop and start one all the time), but I am working on it. One incentive that worked for me was finding a cool notebook/journal, a pen with just the right nib (I’m slightly obsessive about writing implements) and setting a certain time each day to write.
If you are a person who spends more time on their phone and more comfortable with apps than pen and paper, you can use the Gratitude Journal app, which for $2.99 will allow you to list five things you are grateful for daily, and allows you to configure reminders so you can continue the practice every day. I just downloaded it, and so far find it practical and visually appealing.
2. Meditate upon it
Allow the words you wrote to sink in. Think of the things you are grateful for and allow the feelings to wash over you. It’s one thing to write glibly, another to truly feel grateful.
3. Gain some perspective
When thinking about what you are grateful for, you can also think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have this. This can deepen your feelings of gratitude. For example, I think about what my life would be like without my mom. She is my best friend and confidant, so my life would be horribly lonely without her. Thinking about how much you do have can take focus off what you don’t have. It’s the little things that mean the most.
WHAT GRATITUDE TRICKS WORK FOR YOU? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!