Are you grateful? It is Thanksgiving in the United States today and this year is quite different than any other Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced (including living overseas during an American holiday!). The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has changed how people can celebrate. So, I thought why not write about how to incorporate a gratitude practice into your daily routine?
So, what is gratitude? It’s an affirmation of what is good and beneficial in our lives. However, we can be grateful for things that can be painful as well. Gratitude is in the eye of the beholder, and I struggled for YEARS with a healthy practice myself.
One day — during my dark night of the soul — I started to think about things that had happened “to” me. I would say, “Everything would be great if ___ didn’t happen TO me.” And I stopped to think about that statement what had happened TO me. What if I changed the way I looked at the ‘bad’ shit that had happened throughout my life? What if I changed the statement to be a question, “How has my life changed for the better because of what happened FOR me?”
I know some people think, “How the f*ck does having a catastrophe happen FOR me? Are you saying I deserved it?”
No. I am not saying that …exactly, but sometimes things happen in life to shake us up, help us feel alive, and help us to grow.
I didn’t know the first thing about creating a gratitude practice, and to be honest, at first, it was uncomfortable. Discomfort with showing appreciation for what is going well in life is relatable. Most people I’ve worked with over the years have had a tough time being positive about themselves and their lives. I grew up in the ’90s as a teen, and one of the things I felt day in and out was that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t thin enough, smart enough, a good enough daughter/friend/person, and on and on. When I met people with self-esteem and confidence, I thought they were arrogant! Isn’t that so sad? But that’s the reality.
So often we are encouraged to be hard on ourselves and push ourselves in non-constructive ways and for the benefit of our physical being. We learn to feel empty and like wholeness is something we need to buy in a shop or a number we need to see in our bank account. It’s bullshit. You can start feeling grateful right here, right now.
Your mission — should you choose it — is to create a daily gratitude practice. Are you in?
HOW TO INCORPORATE A GRATITUDE PRACTICE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
You don’t need much to create this practice — you will need:
- Something to write with
- A container (jar/box/whatever you’ve got!)
CREATING A GRATITUDE JAR (OR BOX OR WHATEVER!)
Cut your paper up into strips or squares — whichever you prefer. When I first started my gratitude practice, I set a goal of writing fifteen things for which I am grateful. Once you get going, you’ll likely find many more things to appreciate and acknowledge — this is for you and only you, so write whatever you feel!
A few examples of what I wrote were:
“I am grateful for my family.”
“I am grateful for my health.”
“I am grateful for my home.”
“I am grateful for the love I give and receive.”
“I am grateful for today.”
“I am grateful for my education.”
“I am grateful for running water and food.”
The truth of the matter is, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Think about the last time your electricity went off — I know, no Internet!
What if you didn’t download your report for work tomorrow and forgot charge your laptop? Sure, this seems trivial, but in those moments before the power went out, you were grateful for the WiFi and electricity, weren’t you? Or what about that fridge/freezer full of food you just bought that might go bad? The loss of electricity has a domino effect in terms of the sheer possibility of losing out on everyday comforts that we all take for granted. We all groan when the heat and electricity bill comes through the mail, but we sure enjoy hot showers and power to meet our basic (and leisurely) needs.How to incorporate a daily gratitude practice #holistictherapy #energywork #lightworker #gratitude Click To Tweet
HOW TO INCORPORATE A DAILY GRATITUDE PRACTICE
I keep my gratitude jar next to my bed. I keep the jar there so that every morning I can pull out two things I am grateful for before I start and end my day. At night, I try to write down one thing that I am thankful for that happened during the day and add it to the jar. It could be a feeling of happiness from the fact that it was a sunny day (especially in Scotland!) or because I received a text from a friend back home. Nothing is trivial if it adds value to your day, brings you joy, and provides you with comfort.
Embracing a practice of gratitude can feel strange at first; It certainly did for me! I felt uncomfortable saying those things the first few days, but by the last day of the first week, I had more energy, slept better, and could see the benefits an attitude of gratitude provides. People smile at you and say hello. Did they always? Maybe. Do I notice it more now? Absolutely!
Little things like finding foods I had been thinking about from home suddenly appearing on the shelf at my local grocery store. The amount of synchronicity I experience now is almost to an X-Files level (cue the X-Files Theme!), but that’s all part of the presence of gratitude in your daily life. It helps you to attract positive experiences and interactions regularly. As within, so without; our outer world is a reflection of our inner world experiences, inner peace, and happiness reflecting from within.
Remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience (thank you, Wayne Dyer!). Not everything will be perfect or exactly what we desire all of the time. Trust me; you wouldn’t really want that. You think you do, but you don’t. We need contrast in this life. Without the dark, we have no awareness of the light.
When we lead with gratitude, there’s a certainty that no matter what life throws onto our path, we can always choose to make it through and come out stronger, wiser and more appreciative souls.