Gratitude, in my mind at least, is one of the easiest, most powerful practices we can take on to dramatically increase our feelings of happiness and well-being. And really, we all want to be happier don’t we?
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
― Eckhart Tolle
You’ve probably heard the teaching: whatever you focus on expands. I’m not talking about the law of attraction here folks, but more of the law of the way things are. I don’t personally believe the universe has any desire to bend to my personal needs and wants, but I do believe that my experience of the truth of life itself is influenced by what I perceive and how I perceive it. By focusing on what is the “good that you already have in your life”, you start to notice more of it, more often, and feel the abundance that is already here. Gratitude is a powerful practice to incline your mind to notice all the goodness, beauty, and wonder that is around us all the time…and that is a sweet way to live your life!
Here’s a few ways that you can cultivate your own practice, (because it really is a practice not a one-time thing to work), and make it stick so that you can have long lasting happiness:
1) Start now.
You don’t have to wait to be grateful. Look around you and notice: the sun shining, the rain watering the grass, the ability to read, and healthy feet. It’s appreciating the little mundane things that go unnoticed that make our life rich. After all, our lives are made up of the little things!
2) Get specific.
To really “get” the feeling of gratitude it helps to expand on it. Notice your shoes. Not everyone in the world gets to have shoes, and you probably have a few to choose from. Someone designed and made your shoes, and someone else stocked them before selling them to you. There are a whole lot of people to be grateful for that got you your sweet ass shoes! See, it’s not about looking at concepts, like being grateful for your health, or your family. Those are too big for your mind to really grasp and be impacted by. It’s getting intimate with specifically what you are grateful for and letting yourself feel it, get touched by it.
3) Create ritual time.
No meaningful change happens unless it’s scheduled in. It’s like learning to run, but then only doing it when you feel like it. Good luck, right? Eventually it will become automatic, but first you have to train your brain to want it. One practice I love is to place a hand on my heart and a foot on the earth when I wake up and go to bed, and have a moment of deep appreciation for the day ahead and the day I had. Another one, is to have a gratitude journal and list 3 to 5 things every day that you are grateful for. Keep it in the same place and have a set time to use it. Don’t worry if it challenges you a bit at first. Your brain may not be accustomed to viewing the world this way yet with ease, but it will if you persist. Another ritual I have is to end each yoga class with the invitation to count 3 of your blessings, and I also always count mine too!
4) Persistence and practice.
Your brain is an amazing machine that is plastic, which means it is malleable. The neuro-pathways in your brain are strengthened by what you think about most. By making the effort to choose gratitude, you strengthen those neuro-pathways to become a more habitual way of thinking. Also just like any practice, it will take effort in the beginning, and less and less as time goes on and gratitude becomes more automatic. All this means, is to make a plan that you can stick to an enjoy practicing.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne
I’m totally with Piglet on this one! I hope this blog post was useful to you and inspired you in your own practice. As always, I’d love to hear from you! What are your practices? How do you use gratitude in your own life? Please feel free to comment below and share your insights.
Love and Light,