It can be easy to get swept away in the fast lane and forget to stop and show your appreciation and gratitude for what you do have. A life well lived is one of gratitude and thankfulness.
I'm going to quote Ferris Bueller, haha!
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Here are some things to consider to help guide you on your gratitude journey.
Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” major things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating everything in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. So, don’t be picky about it. Be grateful for everything.
Even if it’s as simple as appreciating the sunshine pouring through your windows first thing in the morning. Or the access to having clean drinking water at your disposal. Some people don't have that! So, don’t leave anything out when practicing gratitude.
Find gratitude in challenges. Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for right now. I bet if you took some time to dig deeper into your own past experiences in life, you may find that those experiences have helped shape the person you have become today.
Mindfulness. Practice it! Why is this one so important?
Well, it can improve mental health. It helps us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Over time you may find it also helps improve physical health. It may lower blood pressure, may reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and alleviate stomach issues. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
Sit down every day and think of at least 3 to 5 things to be grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. So, begin by, making sure you are in a quiet place, make it comfy and cozy, light some candles, play some relaxing music in the background and really be present in your thoughts. Take a few deep breaths in and out to clear your mind. Staying present. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every single session.
Be Non-judgmental with yourself. Awareness cannot occur freely if we would like our experience to be other than it is. Every moment of mindful awareness provides freedom from conditioned suffering. Stick with this mindfulness practice, even if it’s not coming easy. At times, the process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a fundamental key to greater happiness and self-awareness.
It only takes eight weeks of gratitude practice for people to start showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness. Your brain is a powerful tool, and training it towards gratitude is all part of guaranteeing that the gratitude comes more naturally as you practice.
I am a huge fan of this one…keep a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be a notebook, or a beautifully decorated leather-bound journal. It’s up to you.
And this is where the mindfulness practice comes in that I previously spoke about! Write down your positive thoughts that you had during your mindfulness session. If you feel stuck one day or are having a rough day, keeping track of all the things you are grateful for or thankful for can serve as a reminder, you can refer back to this journal and read all the positives in your life.
Being grateful can make you happy but being happy can also make you grateful. There are plenty of other ways to boost your mood, this includes eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising, spending time around naturally positive people, or participating in a hobby you enjoy.
Once you are feeling the endorphins flow throughout your body, showing gratitude will become even easier and you’ll start to be able to make list after list of all of the things in your life you’re thankful for.
One day you will wake up, grab your journal and the writing will flow, but with anything it takes practice and dedication. Remember there was a time you couldn’t even tie your own shoes…but with practice and dedication you did it. Practicing gratitude is no different.
I wish you luck, peace, and happiness on your gratitude journey.