In the world of mindfulness and wellbeing there’s been a strong focus on gratitude and more specifically practising gratitude. So what exactly does it mean to practice gratitude, is it worthwhile, and how can you incorporate it into your life?
Practising gratitude simply means doing something to focus your attention on things you are thankful for. There should be an emphasis on internal aspects as well as external aspects without focusing on material items. For example: having gratitude for your strength through a difficult situation or gratitude for a loved one rather than gratitude for your dishwasher.
There are many reasons to practice gratitude some of the main reasons are:
Happiness – by putting a focus on what you are thankful for you focus on the positive, on the good in your life. This will help put you in a positive mindset viewing life through a lens of gratitude.
Love – through gratitude we approach life from a place of love. We find more self-love by thinking about the parts of ourselves we are grateful for. We feel more love for others by spending time focusing on those we are thankful to have in our lives.
Sharing – we can incorporate gratitude practices which involve others and these can help us connect to others; feel a closeness through sharing. We can also spread our gratitude inviting others to join in a practice.
I personally have found a change in my mindset. I’m a lot more present, I notice what’s going on around me and try to stop and find the positive before getting swept up in a possibly stressful or negative situation.
If you fancy giving it ago but don’t know how to here are my top 5 gratitude practices:
- Telling someone something you are grateful for – this could be something you do with someone you live with every morning or night. You can also do this by yourself: I try to remember to tell myself three things I’m grateful for at the end of my yoga practice every day.
- Keeping a gratitude journal – keeping a notebook where you can write down one to three things you are grateful for each day. I like the idea of having a list you add to each day with one thing you are grateful for. A great thing to look back over after a year!
- Creating a gratitude vision board – having a notice board of space on your wall where you can put pictures, motivational quotes, souvenirs or any items which remind you of things you are thankful for. It’s a great way to have a constant reminder of all the good in your life.
- Taking time to find gratitude in difficult situations – one of my favourite practices but one of the hardest. Let me give a couple of examples. Maybe you get a frustrating email from a colleague at work – instead of getting annoyed or running through a rant in your head – take a deep breath and think ‘I’m grateful for this opportunity for me to practice being tactful and gracious.’ Maybe we drop jar of sauce on the floor – instead of getting annoyed at yourself – thinking ‘I’m grateful for this opportunity to thoroughly clean the kitchen floor.’ I know, it’s hard. I didn’t say it was easy and it’ll take time for it to become natural. Making a point of finding the good in the bad really does help change your mindset over time.
- Thanking people – sounds simple but something we could all do a little more. Thanking the bus driver, the cashier at the supermarket, the barista at the coffee shop, your partner for making you dinner, the list is endless for any given day. Saying ‘thank you’ out loud, with eye contact and a genuine feeling of gratitude is a powerful thing. It’ll mean more to others than you realise and make you a happier person.
Do you practice gratitude? If you do what are your favourite practices? Please comment below and let me know.