Ever heard the phrase “attitude of gratitude?” It might sound a little hokey to you, but if you’re looking for a simple place to start with your emotional health, establishing a gratitude practice is a great first step.
What is a gratitude practice? There’s many ways to go about this and there’s not one size fits all. What’s important is creating a personal and meaningful way to appreciate all the things in your life daily. A soul checklist if you will, of all there is in life to be grateful for.
A list of ideas could include:
- a daily mantra
- a morning prayer to start the day
- sending out a note of thanks weekly or daily
- firing off in your mind 20 things you are grateful for at the start of each day
- listing 5 things daily that you are grateful for in a gratitude journal or write it in your planner.
- a gratitude jar – write down 1 thing you are grateful for each day on a small piece of paper and pop it in the jar. Watch how quickly the jar fills up. Pull out slips of paper to read when you’re feeling low.
Whatever it may look like for you, practicing gratitude each day can have a positive impact on every aspect of your life. Don’t get too caught up in the details of what you’re grateful for. Of course, it can be the obvious such as family, health, home, food. Those are certainly important and part of our essential needs for survival. But at its core, gratitude can be the simplest, smallest things. Those often hold the most meaning and are a great way for gratitude to take root in your life.
Some simple things to be grateful for:
- the sky
- soap bubbles
- fluffy clouds
- smell of dinner cooking
- shiny buttons
- running water
- cotton sheets
- the perfume inserts in your favorite magazine
- bread baking
- babies laughing
- kittens purring
- mountain tops
- a good cup of gourmet coffee
Get the idea?
There are also many physical and emotional benefits of creating a gratitude practice. Including:
- a stronger immune system
- better sleep
- more energy and enthusiasm
- more determination and focus
- stronger family ties
- more compassion and generosity
- fewer feelings of loneliness and isolation
- stronger resolve for trying times
- optimism for the future
I could continue making lists, but maybe it would better to share my gratitude story with you.
Have you ever gone through a phase in life where you just felt lousy? And then piled shame on top of that. Beating yourself up for not feeling grateful because things could always be worse.
Years ago, I was going through one of those phases. No serious problems, I was just sad all the time and didn’t know how to snap out of it.
I knew I had a lot to be grateful for, but I wasn’t feeling it. I decided I needed a reminder of everything that was good in my life. A symbol of gratitude so I could start my gratitude practice and heal my sadness. I chose a rock. But not just any rock. It had to be in the shape of a heart, so I’d know for sure it was meant for me.
One day on my lunch hour from work, I sat in my car in total silence and prayed for this rock. I imagined the shape of it and the weight of it in my outstretched hand. I said “thank you” as if I already had the rock and released my prayer.
Three weeks later in the Smoky Mountains, I was hiking on a trail with my son. He had run ahead of me anxious to get to our destination. Suddenly he stopped and bent down to look at the ground. He picked up his find and ran back to me. “Mommy, mommy,” he said, “this is for you!” I held out my hand and looked down to see my heart shaped rock. My gratitude rock. The one I had prayed for. The one I attracted right into the palm of my hand. And just to drive the point home that I would be okay, it was delivered to me through my precious son, whom I was most grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been an important piece of my health and wellness ever since and it can be for you too.
You’re a living, vibrant, being full of magical energy. You can create a force to attract wonderful things in your life and gratitude is the fuel. But if you’re not ready to start a gratitude practice, I have one last bit of advice – when you get out of bed every morning, say the words “thank you” when your feet hit the floor. You may not be feeling it, you may not even believe it, but say it anyway. We tend to believe what we hear ourselves say. If you only ever say the words “thank you,” it will be enough to start a path toward gratitude.