Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude Practice is literally the practice of being thankful. Of acknowledging what you have to be thankful for. They can be big things like your health, the health of your family, your home, etc. Or they can be small things, like being thankful for your cup of coffee. The more you practice being thankful, the more you are able find things to feel thankful for.
Why practice gratitude?
The act of acknowledging the things you are thankful for creates a focus on those positive things in your mind. A good metaphor for teaching this is watering a plant. Whatever you water will grow. Or, in this case, whatever you focus your energy on will be more prominent in your mind and in your life. If you spend more time thinking about things in your life that are not going well, focusing on how others have hurt you, on your physical ailments, etc., the more those things will be prominent in your mind. The more you think about the things you are grateful for, the things that make you happy, and the opportunities you have, the more you will have these positive things in your mind. This can create a sense of happiness and well-being for you, in spite of hard circumstances. If you practice being thankful for the little things, the more you will be able to see the good in situations.
Psychology Today published an article you can read here that covers 7 scientifically proven benefits of practicing gratitude. Among those benefits are: better sleep, less depression, less physical ailments, increased happiness, increased empathy, reduced stress, and an improvement in relationships. Who doesn't want all of that, right?
How do I practice gratitude in my life?
There are many ways to practice being grateful. Here are just a few examples.
1. At dinner, go around the table and give everyone an opportunity to say something they are thankful for that day. This is an opportunity for everyone to listen to each other, and for children to learn how to practice gratitude from a young age.
2. Start a gratitude journal. Write for 5 minutes about the things you are thankful for every day. Challenge yourself to write different things each day. You can do this practice in the morning when you first get up, or at night just before you go to bed.
3. Create a gratitude jar. Find a clear jar. Each day write down something you are thankful for. Writing on colorful paper can make the jar look pretty and happy, which is an added bonus. Put it on a counter where you can see it. If you are having an especially happy day write as many things down as you want and add them to your jar. When you are having a moment where you are feeling negative or discouraged, reach into your jar and read something you have felt gratitude for.
There are many more ways to practice being thankful but these are just a few ideas to get you started. How do you practice gratitude?