“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey
In times of uncertainty, we start feeling overwhelmed and head into a downward spiral of negative thinking. This can be a tough place to come out of. We can feel at times the whole universe is conspiring against you. It is times like this, that by implementing a simple practice of gratitude, you can make a major shift in the way you approach things in your life.
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful and readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
“The Science of Gratitude” (2018), outlined numerous benefits when you acknowledge gratitude:
- increased happiness and positive mood and physical health
- better sleep leading to less fatigue
- greater resiliency
- more satisfaction with life
- less materialistic behaviours
- less likely to experience burnout
How can you implement a gratitude practice into your life?
Make a choice to notice moments to be grateful for and committing to having a mindset of gratitude. Find the time to install this habit into your life – I started by incorporating it into my morning routine to help me start with a positive mindset for the day. I am now trying to do them before bed by asking myself ‘what I can be grateful for from the day?’ Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research has found that feeling grateful before bed helps people sleep better and longer. Lately, I am also asking myself “what can I be grateful for in this moment?” If you can, incorporate your partners into the practice and express to each other what you are grateful for every day. Doing this practice with others can increase your commitment to the process.
When I first started practicing gratitude, I would quickly write down three things to be grateful for and as a part of my morning routine. I would write a few words – my home, morning coffee, my family. I found I was acknowledging the things, but I wasn’t feeling gratitude. I started telling myself – “I am so grateful to live in this beautiful place that I can call my home, feel safe in, and be myself in. I have big windows to allow so much light into my world and see the beautiful view around me. And it would bring a smile to my face and a sense of calm.” By qualifying those things I’m grateful for with more detail, I felt I feel gratitude more, really taking it in. Some people choose to write it out in a gratitude journal, which can help you visualize it and then to feel it. Take the extra few minutes to really feel your gratitude.
Start with once a day. Morning or evening, there is no wrong time. Then try to increase it to twice a day. Ideally, you want to live your life in a mindset of gratitude. Appreciating everything and everyone in your life. The more you practice it, the better for your well being. Don’t forget to find others to do your gratitude practice to help you commit. Or make it a challenge for the next 30 days, to post what you are grateful for on your social media. You may inspire others around you to join in with you, or at least bring a positive perspective to the people around you.
What I have learned through this process of installing a gratitude practice, is I have a lot to be grateful for. I realized, there is no such thing as being overly grateful, only overly ungrateful. Remembering to be grateful can be hard at times when life throws you some curve balls, where you can feel like you’re down and out. But choosing to change the channel of your mind to one that focuses on gratitude, has gotten me out of the downward spiral many times.
So let me ask you – what are you grateful for?