Having a gratitude practice has transformed my life. You can read my thank you letter to Gratitude here. It goes without saying that I highly encourage everyone to jump on board the gratitude train. Remember though that it is a practice . . . as in you have to incorporate gratitude into your life A LOT if you want to truly benefit from it. Here are 4 of the ways my practice has expanded over the years:
1. Each night before falling asleep I take some time to reflect on my day with the intention to celebrate the moments I’m thankful for: the way the sun shone through the window onto the cat, the smile from the kind stranger who opened the door for me, the way the fall leaves fluttered gracefully and carelessly to the ground.
2. I’ve actually trained myself to say “This” when a I become aware of a gratitude moment; “this” is an implicit shout out of Gratitude.. I stockpile as many “this’s” as I can throughout the day so even if I don’t remember all I am grateful for from the day, I can feel confident that I was present in that moment, that I noticed the beauty around me, that I felt blessed and thankful.
3. In anxiety filled emotional states of stress or despair I have to go beyond my “this” practice to shift from despair to calm by making the deliberate choice to take immediate note of my surroundings and to give thanks for what, in that miserable moment, could actually if I let it make my heart sing: the bird hopping down the sidewalk, the sound of a child giggling, the different shades of green all around me, the Elder couple holding hands. I will call on these simple yet glorious gratitude moments again in my day if needed.
4. I intentionally hold in my heart a gratitude moment by bringing it to mind and replaying it in slow motion while I feel a comforting warmth seep into my chest. I do this to shift my mood. I also do it just to do it because it feels amazing. When I remember I deepen the experience by putting my hand over my heart during the reflection.
I invite you try these or come up with your own ways to experience gratitude. I’ve noticed my practice has taught me to continuously take notice of extraordinary ordinary moments which is much preferable to staying in the runaround stories in my head that can so easily consume me if I’m not mindful.