Meditation and gratitude are some of the most touted health and wellness practices around (I talk a bit about why controlling your breath and meditation are truly game changers here). If you are on my email list, you know that for the month of November, I am doubling down on both of these practices, as well as making sure I am stretching every day in an effort to focus on my mind, body and spirit.
Today, I want to talk specifically about what a gratitude practice is, why having one is so flippin’ important in the first place and provide a few pointers for seamlessly incorporating a gratitude practice into your life.
Gratitude practice? Huh?
The phrase “gratitude practice” is thrown around all the time. But if you’ve never heard of it before, it can be a little baffling. So what actually is it?! A gratitude practice is simply counting your blessings regularly so you have the opportunity to reflect on them in a deeper way, reliving those happy thoughts and getting some of those same benefits the second time around!
Go ahead – try it right now. Think of 3 things you are grateful for today, and write them down (you can jot them in your journal or try downloading my fav app Thankful, where you can log them all in one spot). Now reflect on them. Think about what it felt like to be in those moments – how happy you felt, how content you were, what it truly means to you.
That’s it! You’ve officially completed your first “gratitude practice.” Pretty simple, eh?
The benefits of being thankful.
Let’s get real for a second. Sometimes all this happiness, self-development, self-awareness sh-tuff can seem a bit “woo-woo” or just a tad out there. I totally get it. And I’m not going to lie to you – it took me some time to warm up to this stuff, too. But the science behind it all is powerful. And once you try it, you see just how great you feel (aaand then you end up addicted to sharing it with others, just like me)!
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Why should you incorporate a gratitude practice into your life?
- It can totally turn your day around. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it can turn your life around, too. Having a gratitude practice forces you to look at your own life and really examine the amazing things you already have. When I have a bad day, switching my mindset from a grumpy Debbie Downer to one where I am thankful for even the tiniest of things, relieves a little tension and a little of that heaviness I was carrying around. It makes me… happier!
- You can deal with crappy situations with a little more grace. Ever heard of finding that silver lining? People who incorporate gratitude into their lives are better able to find it. With practice, you will find that silver lining creeping into the toughest of times.
- You will kill jealousy. The other day I was touring a mansion for work (long story), and I found myself pining for what the owners had. The huge marble fireplace, the gorgeous chandeliers, the rustic wine cellar, the walk in closet the size of a small room with a closet attached to it filled with shoes? Yeah, I’m in heaven. We all have moments where we get a little jealous of what others have, and feel bad about why we don’t have it, too. Refocusing on the things that I am grateful for in my own life – the focus I have built around simplistic living, the love and coziness I experience in my home every day, the fact that I don’t have to pay 10 maids to clean my house each week – and why they are right for me, made it so much easier to walk out of the house feeling happy and completely content.
- You will build more meaningful connections. I have found that when I am grateful, I see others in a new light, too. Because I am thankful for what I have in my life, I am able to focus more pointedly at others – listening to them, understanding them, enjoying the moments I have with them.
Tips & tricks.
When I first started adding a gratitude practice into my life, I tried a myriad of methods until I found one that really stuck (although the practice itself is simple, building healthy habits or breaking bad ones can take a little finagling). Here are a couple pointers:
- Find a time that works best for you. There is no “right” time for gratitude. You can practice giving thanks right when you wake up in the morning, before hopping into bed, or throughout the day as the mood strikes you. Try each of them out, and see what comes easiest. Depending on the day, this may change, too! I used to try to force myself into a strict morning routine, with stretching, meditation, making my bed, drinking lemon water and journaling, but I quickly found strict morning routines weren’t for me. Instead, I commit myself to fitting my gratitude practice somewhere (anywhere!) in my day, which leaves me feeling less stressed and more able to focus on what really counts – being grateful!
- Try a couple different methods. I used to try to writing what I am thankful for in my journal each day (pen and paper, baby). To be honest with you, it just took to much time and I kept losing the darn thing. I have since switched to using the app Thankful, and I have found it makes me much more consistent. Plus it allows me to write things down in the moment, lest I forget about it later.
- Get your friends and family in on it. It can be fun to encourage others to try a gratitude practice with you. You can hold each other accountable for making it a daily habit, and it definitely strengthens relationships when you get to tell them – “hey, you were my thing today!” Of course, you can totally keep it your own little secret, too. 🙂 Whatever works!
Do you have any other tips and tricks to share? What benefits have you found to having a gratitude practice in your life? If you are new to this whole thing, what do you think about trying it out? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!
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Later this week I will be sending out an e-book on stretching, diving into why it is important and outlining three 5-minute stretching routines you can easily add to your day – whether you work at a desk, want to start your day off fresh, or want to get settled before heading to sleep. Sign up for my email list here to make sure you don’t miss it!