An attitude of gratitude is one of the cornerstones of well-being.
In a previous post on the benefits of gratitude, I wrote about my own experience with gratitude creating a monumental, existential shift in my experience of life, and went on to share with you the research that shows the mental, physical and emotional benefits of gratitude, from better sleep to improved self esteem, and more. Read that article here.
In this post, I want to share a tele seminar I held on the benefits of gratitude, which you can find just here. Further down in this post are some ideas on how to create a gratitude practice of your own.
Creating a gratitude practice.
“Know thyself.” Boy, that Socrates knew a thing or two. There’s really no right or wrong way to create a gratitude practice. The most important thing is that you create a practice that works for you, so that you work your practice. If you’re not a writer, then don’t feel like you’re doing gratitude “wrong” by not journaling. Choose one of the other methods instead. Not a meditator? Then don’t opt for the gratitude meditation practice. Don’t like any of these options? Create your own or do an internet search to come up with more ideas to create one that works for you!
Here are three ideas for creating a gratitude practice.
Choose one, commit to it for 30 days so that you can start to experience the beneficial effects, and feel free to change it around to make it your own! I don’t think there’s a wrong way to feel grateful!
1. Create a gratitude journal. You can choose a beautiful journal or just a basic notebook. Let your personality be your guide. Some ideas on what to journal about: look back at your day, and journal about the people, things and events that you’re grateful for today. Journal outside of your day–journal about what you’re grateful for having experienced on your life’s journey so far. You may find yourself surprised that, with some time past, you can now feel grateful for the life lessons that you gleaned from experiences that, at the time, didn’t seem like anything you’d ever be grateful for. And if that happens to you, then you can be grateful for your sense of perspective!
When to journal? Certainly, choose a time that works for you but if you can see yourself doing this just before you go to sleep at night, there are tremendous benefits to it. Journaling on something positive just before sleep takes advantage of the natural cycles of your subconscious mind. Basically, whatever you focus on that has meaning, just before you sleep, becomes the first thing your subconscious mind processes when you go to sleep, through your dreams. This “sets the tone” if you will for the quality of your sleep and the material of your dreams. This could be one of the factors involved in the findings of the studies that show that gratitude improves sleep.
2. Create a gratitude meditation practice. This one’s my choice. (I write enough during the day, LOL!). I take time in the morning and in the afternoon to spend 10 minutes in meditation, focusing on the energy of gratitude, which I feel in my solar plexus, and on the people I am grateful for in my life. For me, it’s very powerful to notice not just the images or the thoughts of whom and what I am grateful for, but the physical experience that creates in my body. That becomes my “short-cut” to move into the state of gratitude any time I need to. And as I mentioned in my previous article, gratitude really is like an alia-seltzer for negative emotions. I’ve never experience anything that wiped away negative feelings as quickly and as effectively as the experience of gratitude. Try creating your own gratitude meditation practice!
3. Take your gratitude on a walk-about. Rather than (or in addition to!) spending dedicated time to your gratitude practice, take it with you throughout your day. Notice in the moment, moment-by-moment, what and who you’re grateful for. Move your gratitude into your language, into how you express your experience of this life. Rather than focusing on what you lack, fill your language with references to the gifts and abundance you’re grateful for. Language is such a powerful factor in how we experience the world. Your subconscious mind is ALWAYS listening to what you say. As you change your talk, both to yourself and others, to reflect an attitude of gratitude, you will literally be changing how you see yourself and your world, on a subconscious basis.
OK, that’s it. Certainly there are more ways to focus on and practice gratitude. I hope that one or more of these inspires you to create a practice of your own. You may be surprised (as I was) at what a powerful catalyst for personal change a gratitude practice can be. Don’t fear any change that may come out of this practice, because all changes coming out of gratitude will be beneficial not only for you, but for every soul you touch!
If you haven’t already done so, read my previous article on my experience with gratitude and 5 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.