the practice of gratitude

The Practice of Gratitude

When was the last time you complained about something?

Now, I’ve done my share of complaining. Not proud of that, but it’s a fact. Unfortunately, it didn’t do me or anyone else any good. Even science says complaining is exceptionally bad for your body and mind, and in many cases I can remember how it only served to build my feelings of frustration.

There are some people who can live without complaining, and I hope we all aspire to that level of awesome. Until then, we can at least fight back a little bit with gratitude.

If you’re feeling grateful for something–pretty much anything–it’s really hard to complain.

When we make gratitude a practice, the attitude becomes so prevalent in our lives that we don’t even want to complain. Gratitude just feels better. It becomes easier and easier to make that choice.

I’m not perfect. But I’m improving all the time. These are some of the ways I like to practice gratitude:

Gratitude Journal (or Jar)

I kept a gratitude journal for years. I need to start again. I made an effort to write an entire page every night, listing everything I could think of without stopping. Many days those entries would look a lot alike. You could also choose to list three things each day.

In recent history, I’ve seen a few friends and Pinterest-y folks start a gratitude jar on January 1, writing the date and one thing they’re grateful for each day on a slip of paper. At the end of the year, you go back and read them all.

And here’s a fun journal prompt list I found for 30 days of gratitude, and you can see my responses here.

Rampage of Appreciation

This is from a book by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and you can read it about it here.

 

“Begin by looking around your immediate environment and gently noticing something that pleases you. Try to hold your attention on this pleasing object as you consider how wonderful, beautiful, or useful it is. And as you focus upon it longer, your positive feelings about it will increase.”

Keep looking around your space and repeat the process. Esther and Jerry are all about the Law of Attraction, but whether or not you believe in that, you’ll still enjoy and benefit from a Rampage of Appreciation. (Plus I really like the word rampage, especially in this context.)

Yoga

Of course! Yoga puts us in a good headspace for gratitude, and we have a lot of opportunities to practice it when we’re on the mat: thankful for our bodies, thankful for the time to practice. And we can use “thank you” as a mantra to keep ourselves present.

Letters

I love, love, love thank you notes. My parents made me write them when I was a kid, but the truth is, I loved doing it even then. I opened my Christmas presents, including whatever stationery set I was given that year (I was given a lot of stationery as a child), and then I set about writing to everyone to thank them for those gifts.

This is a doubly-good feeling: it’s an opportunity to express your thanks, and getting mail that’s not a bill is an easy way to make someone’s day.

Like yoga, like anything, the more we practice gratitude, the easier it gets. Start today if you haven’t yet. And comment below: how do you practice gratitude? Have you noticed any changes in your life as a result?

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