This simple gratitude practice could change your life.
*Originally published June 30, 2016.
I know my readers don’t have time to read every single one of my blog posts. Heavens, there's so many it would take a very dedicated to soul to do so! Yet, of all of the posts I’ve written, I am extremely grateful that you’re reading this one.
If I had to pick three habits with the greatest power to radically lift your energy, build your vibration and improve your wellbeing, it would be gratitude, positive thoughts and giving to others without expectation.
As simple as it may sound, combining these practises can help propel you out of that feeling of being stuck into that wondrous place of living in the flow. Today however, we're going to chat about gratitude.
This is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before - Maya Angelou
The power of gratitude.
Focusing on things in your life to be grateful for, even for a short time each day, reminds your mind to take stock of what is abundant and awesome in your life. We’ve been trained by modern society to constantly worry about what isn’t going ‘to plan’ in our lives and this often takes over much of our headspace.
Ask yourself this: when was the last time you really gave thanks, even just inside your head, for something in your life? As we hurtle through life it's ever so easy to get caught up in what's going wrong.
Positive thoughts and feelings help raise your vibration (your personal energy), and the feelings generated by gratitude immediately throw our body’s natural energy into an upward spiral, making you feel instantly more balanced, relaxed, and in sync with the world around you.
Scientific studies are showing that practising an ‘attitude of gratitude’, like meditation, is not just a ‘feel-good’ practice – it also has a massive impact on your brain and body’s internal wiring. Some of these tested benefits of gratitude:
- Increases the amount and intensity of positive feelings you experience on a day-to-day basis
Improves your physical health by building a stronger immune system, increasing your sleep quality, and reducing aches and pains
- It blocks negative and toxic emotions (it's impossible to feel anger and gratitude at the same time)
- Lowering anxiety and decreasing risk of clinical depression
- Increasing your productivity, general alertness and creative ability
How to practise gratitude
Introducing a daily gratitude habit may feel like yet another thing you need to add to your daily wellness 'to do' list. Thankfully however, this one takes only 5-10 minutes of your precious time. This very powerful and effective habit can be practiced very simply, each day.
It’s called a gratitude journal.
Here’s what you do: every night just before you go to bed (or morning, whichever feels good for you) pull out a notebook and spend a few minutes writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for from the day. It can be anything, big or small - from a particularly tasty coffee, to a friend who went above and beyond to help you that day. You may even stop to appreciate just having a roof over your head or a home cooked dinner.
However, if you want this habit to last (that is, for it not to get 'stale'), my tip is to get specific. Jotting down "I'm grateful for the amazing strong 3/4 soy latte I drank this morning" (it's true, I am) each day will not entice you to continue your practise beyond a few days. Open your eyes to the world around you and consciously seek out new things to be grateful for.
Whatever you choose, feel the full feeling of gratitude as you write it down. If you don’t feel like writing, you can also say it out loud to yourself or others – but the act of speaking it or writing it to me adds emphasis to the habit and helps shift energy. Another wonderful practise is to incorporate it with the family at dinner time - work your way around the table and get the children involved too.
Remember to keep your gratitude list every day. Until it becomes engrained, use an alarm to remind you if you need it. Adding to the list every day breaks the connection between how good or bad you’re feeling, or how many things went well or badly that day, and what you’re thankful for.
In our busy modern lives it’s too easy to forget to keep up with new habits we’re trying to form, even small ones. But a gratitude list, when added to day after day, has a trickle-on effect that can turn into a waterfall of personal energy and well being.
For my journal entry tonight? I'm grateful for this wonderful community who give me reason to keep sharing my words and indeed for those who read them.