If anything, this year has been overwhelming, disappointing, & downright frustrating in more ways than we can count.
If you’ve been subject to any sort of impact through the pandemic, social injustice movement, or the natural calamities that are occurring all over the world, then at this point you’re no stranger to these emotions.
So why start a gratitude practice when things feel terribly hopeless?
Well, the emotional & mental benefits of having a gratitude practice are bountiful:
Creating intentional, conscious beliefs that there are still positive things in your life
Improving your overall mood by rewiring subconscious inner dialogue
Minimizing stress while you let go of the spiraling thoughts about all that’s going wrong
Releasing worry as you bring yourself into the present moment
Allowing you to foster healthier relationships with yourself & others through expressions of kindness
Whether impacted directly or indirectly, we can’t help but feel the emotional weight of a world under duress.
But through it all, I know that each of us has something or several things to be grateful for. By staying in the present & appreciating each experience for what it’s worth - we have an opportunity to find gratitude.
Not thanks for all the crappy stuff that’s occurring or the ways we feel wronged or the sense of devastation we mourn when suffering losses. No. We don’t have to see reason in everything or be happy that we’ve been dealt a tough hand.
We do not have to find gratitude in all places. Nor does implementing a gratitude practice make you forget those challenging aspects of life.
But, we as a community have to allow others & ourselves to find gratitude through the hardship.
It’s imperative for our mental & physical wellness to see the silver linings in our lives.
This way we can lift each other up through all this madness & start recognizing the good in the world, beginning with our personal lives.
Well, you may ask - what is gratitude?
Gratitude, as defined, is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for & to return kindness.
With this we can consider the following questions:
Where can we find more thanks in our lives?
How are we ready to show appreciation?
In which ways can we return kindness?
When starting a gratitude practice, don’t feel overwhelmed by options, but rather start small & keep it simple.
[[ Just because something is simple, doesn't mean it’s less effective. Complexity adds in distractions, creates more difficulty than necessary & results in less than ideal results. ]]
Simple Steps to Starting a Gratitude Practice:
Create a daily reminder at the same convenient time
Grab a journal, piece of paper, use notes on your phone or just close your eyes
Set a timer for 2-3 minutes
Begin listing things in your life using the phrase: “I am grateful for…”
Start small & with the first things that come to mind… such as friends, family, my dog, the roof over our head, access to clean water, electricity, etc.
As you expand, continue to list anything that brings you joy or that you know are privileges in your life that you can celebrate - big or small
When the timer goes off, or you feel complete, stop listing
Keep your list or toss it, knowing that you’ve just invested in your mental & emotional health
Once you feel more inclined & practiced, gain more specificity over time
For example, “I am grateful for my mother” becomes “I am grateful for my mother making it a priority to watch my niece & clean up the house whenever she’s over.”
This articulation allows you to hone in on certain qualities instead of glossing over a general person or thing.
If & when you are ready to take it up another notch - recite your gratitude out loud to yourself. Expressing these sentiments verbally gives them more power & recognition in the body for what their true importance is.
Then, when you’re really ready… we take it to the next level & start expressing that gratitude to others!
But, we’ll save that for another day.
For now, I am grateful for you & all you bring to the world.