This is a week where many of us gather with friends and family and give thanks. It feels refreshing to verbalize all that we have to be thankful for. So it is with that awareness that this week’s blog will focus on practicing gratitude. Whatever you are struggling with- infertility, anxiety, grief, perfectionism, life transitions etc. practicing gratitude can help.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Whatever we are focusing on internally will become more evident externally. If you are thinking of buying a Subaru, you may begin to notice just how many of them you see on the roads (they are practically mandatory in Colorado after all!) If you hear a word that you have never heard before, suddenly you may notice it in a number of different conversations. Whether it is an SUV or the word “ineffable,” if your focus is on it you will notice it more.
It’s the same with gratitude. You simultaneously have both good and bad things happening to you and around you. So if you can shift your focus from scarcity to abundance, your mind and your body will feel the difference. You may feel lighter, more enthusiastic, more joyful. You may stress less, have less physical ailments. Don’t believe me? Check out the following links (there are many, many more out there) on the health benefits of practicing gratitude.
I’m Not Feeling Very Grateful:
Totally get it. When we are at our lowest it feels almost impossible to be grateful for anything. Gratitude doesn’t negate or minimize the bad. It just reminds us that there is some good. The bad will still be there, but practicing gratitude can provide some much needed relief.
I’ll Try It but Need Some Ideas:
Here are a few ideas to get you started. The more consistently you do it the more you will notice a difference. Try it for a week and see how you feel. And if you forget a day that’s okay, just get back to it when you can.
3 things today- Make it part of your nightly routine to list three things that happened to you today that you are grateful for. You can share this with your family while eating dinner, or run through it silently in your head while brushing your teeth. Try to come up with different things every day, and be specific. Instead of “I’m grateful for my family,” try “I’m grateful for hugs from my partner” or “I’m grateful for how my mother listened to me today.”
Body gratitude- Our bodies betray us. Sometimes they don’t get pregnant, or they don’t impregnate someone. Sometimes they panic in the most inconvenient of places. Sometimes they are so depressed they can’t get out of bed. They get old and run down and don’t work as well. But instead of focusing on your frustrations toward your body, name what you are grateful for. “I’m grateful my legs are strong and I can walk.” “I’m grateful I can see the smile on that person’s face.” “I’m grateful for my youth.” (After all, today is the youngest that you will be for the rest of your life!)
Topics- Give yourself a theme for the day. One day pay attention to all the relationships in your life that you are grateful for. The next day notice aesthetics that you appreciate. Another day list enjoyable and/or relaxing activities that bring you joy.
5 senses- Every day name one sight, one smell, one sound, one taste and one thing you can touch that you are grateful for. Bonus points for thinking of different ones every day.
Touchstone- Get yourself a tactile reminder. Put a small object in your pocket, or begin to associate touching your watch or your ring with a reminder to get in touch with your grateful side.
Express your gratitude to someone else- Make yourself and someone else feel better by giving a heartfelt thanks to someone. Write a thank you note or an “I appreciate having you in my life” note to someone. Thank your barista for their attention to detail. Let a coworker know what a great job they did on a project. Connect with your partner by telling them what helpful things they do that make them your #1 Teammate.
I am grateful for the new location of my practice, and the amazing people that I have met through it. If practicing gratitude is proving difficult for you, and you need professional help moving from hopelessness to thankfulness please fill out the contact section on my website.
Wishing you all clear minds, rested bodies, full hearts and a Happy Thanksgiving!