Gratitude is one of my favorite practices. This is because it is a really simple exercise that takes almost no time, but has far-reaching, multi-focal benefits. If you’re only going to do one self-care practice, this one will give you the most bang for your buck. Gratitude turns what you have into enough. It turns a bad day into a fortunate day. It also makes positivity a habit.
David Asprey from Bulletproof says, “I do it because gratitude literally rewires your brain. Even a simple gratitude writing practice builds lasting neural sensitivity to more positive thinking. That means the more you practice gratitude, the more you default to positivity instead of negativity Study after study shows that simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a journal or sharing daily wins with friends or family, can make you happier, more positive, and more emotionally open after just two weeks (1,2,3). The benefits last, too (4), which leads to an overall increase in well-being, making you more resilient to stress (5). That’s a lot of improvement for 10 minutes a day.”
Here are some ways to practice gratitude in your own life:
- Eat mindfully. Take one bite at a time. Enjoy it fully. Then take another fork-full. Shuttling the next bite of food toward your mouth while you are still chewing the one you have is demonstrating a scarcity mindset. Since we do everything how we do one thing, shoveling food in this way is akin to being unable to appreciate what we have for a few seconds before reaching for what’s next. No wonder we have trouble being happy.
- Be thankful for the little things. The Stoics like to point out that we have plenty to be thankful for already without longing for more. For example, if you deprive yourself of the pleasures you would normally take for granted–like your comfy bed, three meals a day, your reliable car, or your safe neighborhood–you will be infinitely more appreciative of them after.
- List what you are grateful for. Journalling has several notable perks, one being that it forces you to think things through. As you sit down to write in your gratitude journal, you reflect on your day and count your wins. You may realize that what seemed like a crappy day actually had some good come of it. When you write things down, they become tangible, or more real, and so your wins seem bigger than your losses.
- Look for the silver lining. There is both good and bad in everything. Nothing is all one way or the other. Focus on the good. Be grateful even for the things that seem like disasters. Events are neutral. We decide whether they are good or bad. How many times has something “bad” happened, but something “good” came of it? Maybe you can learn something or change something in your life because of what happened. It is all up to you and your perspective.
- Make a point to be grateful. Look for things throughout your day to be appreciative of. This is especially important on days when you are feeling overly negative. Even if you are only looking for something to write in your gratitude journal, this practice rewires your brain to seek out the positive rather than the negative.
- Include your family. I like to ask my young daughter what she is grateful for each day. This gives her the benefits of more positive thought patterns and gives us an opportunity to connect with each other. It doesn’t take long to listen to her thoughts and it’s always rewarding. My husband and I also like to ask each other what we are grateful for to keep each other thinking positively.
If you find this useful, there’s a good chance your friends will, too. Share this with your friends right away while you are thinking of it. Thanks for reading!
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