As we stroll through our day to day life, how often do we take the time to stop, look around, and be grateful for the two feet we are walking on, the light of the sun shining down on us, or the smile from the stranger passing us by? Do you even remember the last time you did that? It’s something that doesn’t flow as naturally because people aren’t hard-wired to be grateful. Like any skill worth having, it requires practice. A gratitude practice opens us up to identifying what we are grateful for, acknowledging it, and then deeply appreciating it. This is something that has the possibility to greatly impact your spiritual life as well!
According to researcher and NY Times Best Selling Author, Brené Brown, practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives. We each have the tough things we go through in life, but no matter how steep of a mountain you are climbing right now, by actively practicing gratitude in your life, that will make the climb a little bit easier. Gratitude leads to a more joyful you. And don’t we all have so many blessings that we are grateful for? Have you ever wondered how to create a gratitude practice of your own that resonates deeply inside of you? Here are a couple ways you can get started.
Four Beginner Gratitude Practices:
- The Gratitude Journal – I know, I know, you have probably heard all about this one before, right? And maybe you have even tried this one and it didn’t work? Hold on, hang with me for a moment, and keep reading. The purpose of the gratitude journal is to write down three things every morning that you are grateful for. The key here is consistency. Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, suggested back in the 17thcentury to write in a gratitude journal daily for one month. This will help you find more meaning and joy in the every day moments of your life. One of the most valuable aspects of the gratitude journal is actually taking pen to paper and writing your three things down. You can’t simple say them out loud. It’s important to write them down because there is power in the words you write and the way you internalize it by writing them down.
- The Gratefulness Prayer – Include one thing you are grateful for in your prayer each night before you go to bed. How many times do you remember to pray when the struggles are happening in your life? I’m right there with you, friend. Sometimes it’s easier to remember to go to God when things are tough, but it’s also important to remember Him when things are working out or when you think about all the many things He has already blessed you with in order to help you make it through your current roadblock. Did He give you breath to live, hands to hold, eyes to see, or a heart to serve? These are a few of the many blessings He has placed in our lives to be grateful for.
- The Gratitude Box – This is a decorative box or jar you place somewhere in your home. You place a piece of paper in the box each time you think of something you are grateful for. You can write what you are grateful for on a post-it note and put the date on it each day you place a note in the box. Try to not repeat any of the ones you previously put in the box. This makes it more meaningful to you when you do it each day because you are expanding your thoughts and challenging yourself to look more deeply into all the things that enhance your life and give you joy. Then you can utilize this box and the notes in a couple different ways.
- Once a month, set time aside to review each folded up note you took the time to write down the previous month and reflect on why those things are cherished in your life and what they mean to you.
- You can also utilize this box daily when you are feeling down or going through a particularly hard time. You can pull one out each time you need a pick me up or reminder that everything will be okay.
- The Gratitude Circle -How about practicing gratitude around the dinner table? This is an easy way to incorporate more gratitude into your life and the lives of those you share your dinner table with. After you say your dinner prayer, you can then go around the table during dinner and have each person share one thing they are grateful for that day.
*Bonus– This would be a great tradition to start during your Thanksgiving dinner this year with your dear family or friends.
You are probably thinking these are all well and good ideas, but it didn’t work for me the last time I tried it so why would I try it again? So what is the secret to creating a gratitude practice and sticking to it? The gratitude practice game changer includes two important aspects that are going to make your gratitude practice more impactful, meaningful and different than any other time you have tried this before – Be specific & Communicate. The details and communication will transform your gratitude practice and how it makes you feel.
- Be Specific – No matter how many things you have to be grateful for there is power in quality over quantity. Instead of writing down 5 general things you are grateful for, instead get deeper and really specific about what it is your are grateful for and why. For example, try writing down five things you are grateful for when it comes to having a loving grandma in your life.
- Communicate Your Gratefulness – Are you grateful for something that involves another person? Let them know! Share why you are thankful for them or something they did that was phenomenal! Take time to tell them how grateful you are and what they mean to you. You can send a text, give them a call, or write a letter, but no matter how you do it, just do it. It will make their day because in most cases they don’t know the impact they had on you and it will leave them deeply touched by your expression of authentic gratitude. I guarantee you will feel good doing it too!
If you focus on what you do have, you’ll always end up having more because you’ll be more aware of your many blessings that God has shared with you. However, if you focus on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough and you will be in a constant chase mode of dissatisfaction which doesn’t leave time to be present and truly mindful about your life and thank God for what he has already blessed you with.
This is why the gratitude practice is crucial for inviting joy into your life. Even if you just write down at least one thing you are grateful for in the morning you will be more alive and receptive to the goodness God brings into your life. Sometimes it may be as simple as having shoes to cover your feet as you walk out your front door. No matter the size of what you are grateful for, the importance is recognizing it each and every day of your life. That’s when you will truly begin to see shifts in how you go about your everyday life with more joy!
Hugs & Mochas,
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