How to Practice Gratitude

November draws us close to the beautiful season of thanks. We contemplate good and memorable times with those we appreciate. It is a joy to express our thanks for those who inspire us each day to live from a place of peace, love and joy.

Research reports, “Those who practice gratitude - taking time to notice and reflect upon what they’re thankful for - experience more positive emotions, feel more alive and energized, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and possess stronger immune systems.”

 A grateful heart opens us to the beauty all around us.

A grateful heart opens us to the beauty all around us.

On tough days our egos strive to overtake us. They block us from appreciating the opportunity to learn something new, gain perspective and grow. Instead we prefer to sit in our sorrows, defend our rightness and hang on to anger. If this is all we experience in life we get tired, stuck and sad. By being grateful we are able to move past this stuff and take a break from the drama. Just a simple act or a grateful thought for even a few seconds can be a great heart opener!

Once you start planting seeds of gratitude in your heart, you may find that a daily dose of it can make a big difference in how you see the world. Gratitude goes beyond being a giver or a receiver of favors and compliments. It creates grace, joy, belonging and a positive flow with our fellow human beings. 

Authentic gratitude is not low-level lip service - dispensing favors and compliments. A true gratitude practice shows us how to change with ease, lift our moods and soften our edges. If you're new to a gratitude practice or a gratitude guru play with these fresh ideas to expand your toolkit.

  1. Gratitude practices align with values. One of my values is integrity, meaning acting with authenticity and being truthful regardless of the situation. I can’t tell you how many times my insides have turned upside down with life events over this past year. At first running away from the situation and hiding from others seemed like the perfect solution. But my integrity button kicked in and those options were not okay. I had to dig deeper for authentic and truthful answers. Eventually I got there and discovered the right answers led me to peace and a release from my own drama. 
     
  2. Go back in time. Do you carry worn out childhood or past relationship stories that require a re-frame? In your mind's eye bring up an old file. Look at the event. Now, with intention, create re-imaged scenes allowing gratitude to flood the experience/relationship. Take a look at the person or event you keep bringing up from time to time. Can you find at least two ways to be grateful for this experience/relationship? Take your time and find the gifts - they are there. Did it make you stronger? Did you get the chance to stand tall or speak up for yourself? Did you get to walk away only to discover something bigger and better?

    Feel yourself firmly rooted, empowered by a mental revisit which transfers power, understanding and compassion to your long ago Self.  Close the file when gratitude has accomplished its transformation magic. Toss outdated and self-defeating scenes to the trash heap.
     
  3. Be grateful for yourself. What is the compliment you receive most from others? Are you a great listener? Generous of heart? Kind? Genuine? Put your hands on your heart and repeat out loud the following affirmation. Fill in the affirmation with your words.

Put hand on heart and repeat aloud, in this or your self-styled version:  “People say I am sincere. And so I gratefully express sincerity in meaningful ways. I am grateful to share sincerity with the world. When I am sincere I inspire others to sincerely express who they are and what they feel."