Thanksgiving now behind us, we are left with an uplifted spirit from pausing to say thanks and gathering for connection and tradition. We can help that experience linger with an intention to notice, pause, and say thank you. Gratitude can be a way of living every day, and is a foundational component of resilience.
Gratitude is good for your health, both physical (immune system booster) and emotional (increased optimism and joy). The good news is it can be cultivated.
There really is much to be grateful for, and yet because of the brains’ bias toward finding the flaw, people tend to look at what is coming up short, how hard things are, or how things don’t turn out the way they wanted. It is possible to shift your thought processes to see, hear and feel the myriad things that are working in your favor and learn to savor the beauty that is at your fingertips.
Practicing gratitude counteracts two kinds of suffering that are pervasive in our society. First, is the idea of insufficiency – not having enough or not being enough. The second is, staying constantly busy trying to attain more things, experiences, or knowledge in order to somehow fill this feeling of discontent or lack.
It takes intention to consciously practice gratefulness and learn to look in this open and present way. Use this mindful checklist and discover ways to focus your thinking mind and open your heart to gratitude.
Begin to notice when you are complaining. This is a draining energy, and leads to more things to complain about. Negative energy is contagious.
When you notice complaining, think of one thing that is working well to counterbalance the complaint.
Affirm out loud or in writing what is working well at least once per day.
At the end of the day write down three things you experienced as positive and felt appreciation for.
Savor everything. This means slowing down enough to notice; nature outside your window, people smiling at each other in the community, nourishing food set before you, the health and capability of your body, connection with family and friends, warmth and shelter you enjoy and more.
Start the day before getting out of bed, by bringing to mind three people living or deceased you are grateful for, and really experience their presence in your life and what they mean to you.
Find time to pause during the day and silently say thank you, this inclines the brain toward seeing goodness more readily.
Be specific about the things you are grateful for; rather than saying I’m grateful for “my family,” say, I’m grateful “when my daughter took out the garbage without being asked.”
Write a gratitude letter to letter to someone you have not thanked.
Keep a gratitude journal, writing down brief notes about experiences of gratitude increases the things you notice and appreciate.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
-William Arthur Ward