Gratitude is difficult. Trust me I know! With all the comparisons, wanting to be there instead of here (Hawaii sounds pretty freaken nice right now), wanting this not that. Our society does not make being grateful an easy thing.
Stopping, pausing and thinking about what you are grateful for is so helpful. Why not try it right now? Take a moment and just think to yourself what am I grateful for right now?
Next time you are in a rut, stop and just think about what are you grateful right now? Think about it, jot it down, and then see how you feel.
Here are some simple strategies to incorporate gratitude into your life on a daily basis:
- Create a gratitude journal. The one that I use is here on amazon. I try to journal in my gratitude journal daily. And when I do, I notice a difference in my thoughts and also in how I take on the day (or finish the day). Rehashing what you are grateful right before you go to bed is a great way to help you fall asleep, instead of being consumed by all the negative things that happened in your day or thinking about all the anxious tasks you have to do the next day.
- Throughout the day take time to notice the small things that you are grateful for. This is so helpful for me. This can be as simple as just stopping and noticing your breath and thanking the breath that keeps you alive. OR this could be something that you notice in nature like the beautiful cherry blossom trees and flowers that are another reminder of the simple beauties surrounding us in this life. An example for me recently was taking note that my barista smiled at me (hard to come by on the go go go dog eat dog east coast) and to boot she asked me how I was doing! That REALLY is something to be grateful for and take note of.
- Pat yourself on the back. Have you ever thought that writing down what you have accomplished in the day that could be a form of gratitude? This could be making a delicious meal or even starting your own gratitude journal as I mentioned above. It is the accomplishments in our lives that we take for granted that could add a lot of positivity and appreciation for ourselves and our lives.
- Tell someone you love how grateful you are for them in your life. Often times, we take for granted the beings in our lives. We do not take enough time to realize how much these people (or pets!) make a positive impact on our life and fill our body with warm feelings. Take more time to remind someone (or even a pet) that you love them. I give my cats hugs all the time (she totally hates them, but they count!). Love is a form of gratitude and by doing this you will remember all the great beings you have in your life supporting you. I learned from one of my amazing yoga therapy teachers that 12 hugs a day improves your longevity! Here is another great article: 10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day. So make sure you hug your loved ones regularly!
- Compliments. Giving and Receiving compliments. If we give out compliments to others, we notice the great things they have to offer the world. Receiving compliments and taking note of them is also a great way to feel good about the day or yourself. Again, as competitive humans and perfectionists, we have a hard time both giving and receiving compliments. So maybe try giving someone you see on the street a simple compliment? Or even when your friend gives you a compliment, take it, and just say thank you with no justification and be proud.
Now onto the science of gratitude. Let’s get to what’s important…
Science proves the benefits of gratitude. A recently published study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology demonstrated that starting a gratitude journal is a crucial step in benefitting overall well-being.
Oh and of course don’t forget about chronic illness improvement (Chris and I are huge on this right?). ANOTHER recent study provides evidence that gratitude predicts lower depression in chronic illness, specifically focusing on people with irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.
AND I am sure there are plenty of other studies proving the benefits of gratitude in health. And plenty more to come….
So what are you waiting for? Start your gratitude practice now!
Oh and don’t forget to notice what’s happening in your body! Maybe you will have a total Grinch experience and your heart will grow bigger, I dunno just saying? That would be pretty awesome if that happened right? We all could use a bigger heart in this crazy world.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward