Gratitude isn’t necessarily born in us, it’s something we must actively seek out, to foster and to practice. Especially when we’re showing gratitude toward ourselves. These five easy steps will get you started.
Traditionally, November is the time to show and share in gratitude, and this simple acknowledgment is key to a nourished life. ‘Tis the season to be thankful, and given the state so many find themselves in due to natural disasters, health issues, and things that are simply out of their control, it’s likely many of us who are spared these circumstances can agree, we have much to be thankful for.
While we aren’t exactly hardwired to be grateful, it requires practice, and adding the practice of showing gratitude for ourselves to the trail of habits we do each day is easier said than done. In fact, self-gratitude can feel egotistical or self-congratulatory, and is something that ought to just happen naturally, without thought or planning. Because the act of showing gratitude to ourselves isn’t necessarily born in us, it’s something we must actively seek out to foster and practice.
What Does It Mean to Show Gratitude
If you’re anything like us, you may find yourself stressed about all that needs to get done in a day. There’s so much on your multiple to-do lists that you could easily become paralyzed to the point where you don’t know where to start. Adding one more thing like gratitude to that list seems like something totally nonessential. Because how is that going to help you get things done?
But gratitude has a boomerang effect, similar to practicing the 5 Love Languages. It isn’t only about you, it’s about showing others what you feel for them that then bounces back to you, nourishing your mind, body and soul. Gratitude is one of those concepts that everyone knows they should value, and talks about being better at, but rarely integrates it as a formative value put into practice.
Question: When was the last time you walked through the grocery store or down the street with a big smile? Beaming at every person you passed and said, “hello” to those you made eye contact with? If you’ve never tried it, you should. Not only does it fill you up inside and take you out of your own thoughts, it spreads a bit of love and gratitude to every single person you see as well.
At the end of the day, gratitude isn’t just about what we say but how we live and nourish ourselves, and one another. We’re not only talking about nourishment for health, but nourishing relationships, finances, dreams, goals and even success. Nourishing ourselves and others in every way, and finding gratitude in the practice is part of the journey.
As John F. Kennedy said,
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Showing gratitude toward ourselves can be supremely easy and should never be thought of as self-congratulatory. All it takes is simply recognizing and accepting the good in yourself and others.
How to Practice Gratitude
So, the big question is, how do we not just talk about gratitude, but live it?
Here are five simple ways to awaken your mind to all the blessings in life, no matter the circumstance. To start living in the positive.
1. Quiet Your Mind
Nothingness, complete silence, and meditation could be one of the hardest practices we have today. It’s so lonely and what if we miss out? The fear is real. We get it. We’ve gotten so used to noise, constant communication, pressures and schedules, that we ignore that the most powerful thing we can do to find positivity is to pull away. To shut it off. Put it down. To step away and let life soak within you.
You will find that in these quiet moments you are able to awaken your mind to not only what has been, but what is. You’ll begin to see things more clearly and count your blessings.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE: Take time everyday to quiet your mind and sit in your thoughts. You may be surprised to recognize how much beauty you’ve been missing. Start with a simple guided meditation app on your phone like Headspace or Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience.
2. Write it Out
There is something about taking pen to paper that morphs your thoughts from simple ideas to true emotion.
Talking about life isn’t the same as living it. Even the simple act of writing down those things you are grateful for moves the thoughts and ideas to a different column in your life list, and creates meaning and purpose for you to act on them.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE: Buy a journal or use your planner and keep a running list of things you are grateful for. Start your day and end your day with this simple step of writing them down. It could be as simple as one word answers or as many intricate details you need to really pull out the positivity in life.
3. Practice Thanks
There’s no right or wrong way to practice gratitude, so think outside the box and lighten the mood to actually find a way to enjoy the practice.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE: Create a gratitude jar (fun examples here), write a letter, send a text, or verbally give a compliment—and accept them too. Get my favorite stationery shown above and send a simple note, it’s worth every penny.
4. Track the Compliments
Gratitude towards life generally starts with gratitude towards yourself, so take the time this month to account for all the compliments you’ve received. Write out the good things people tell you, from how great your new haircut looks, to the pat on the back for a job well done, to your smile that brightens their day.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE: Once you’ve accounted for others compliments, give yourself a few.
5. Experience Life
Just like the need to quiet our minds, we also need to pull ourselves away from the never-ending list of obligations and get out and live, stepping away from the mundane and living a little. This is the life-changing component of the practice of gratitude. When we can turn our list of “should’s” into “get-to’s” we learn to beat schedule shaming, put away work, turn off the notifications, and instead pick up a good book, take the kids on an adventure, or catch a movie with your friends or even volunteer at your favorite shelter.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE: Make a wish-list of things you feel you could realistically stop doing to improve your daily life, and create a list of things you could realistically start doing to improve your daily life. Then, choose the top 2 in each list, and start doing them. Once they’re complete, move down the list, adding more realistic improvements along the way. This guide to creating a bucket list you’ll actually do is a good place to start.
Remember gratitude isn’t just about what we say, but how we live.
This month we challenge you to not just talk about gratitude but put it into practice. To seek joy, to create space to live, and to pursue adventure. The more you practice the better you will get and the more positivity you will attract.
As Melody Beattie said:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.”
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