“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Welcome to December friends! As we segue from Thanksgiving to the Winter Holidays, we wanted to take the opportunity to talk about being thankful and grateful beyond just the Thanksgiving holiday. Today we are going to talk about the art and practice of daily gratitude. We are big believers in making change sustainable and being grateful is a fabulous way to feel better and have greater access to joy on a daily basis. Though there are many definitions of gratitude, we like to think of it as a thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, we can acknowledge the good things in our lives independent of our challenges.
We also know that gratitude isn’t always easy to generate. Life can be challenging and the business of living is time consuming. Taking time out of the day to focus on mindful appreciation of what is working may seem like a waste of time. It turns out, however, that the art and practice of gratitude can really change how you experience your life on a daily basis. People are becoming more and more aware of how it can fill your life with meaning, hope and direction. There is even an organization committed to becoming more grateful. Gratefulness.org’s vision is to be ‘a worldwide community dedicated to gratefulness as the core inspiration for personal change, international cooperation and sustainable activism in areas of universal concern.”
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it. Inspiration and personal change; cooperation and sustainability? Sign us up! Those are pretty loft words though. How does one get from a bold vision statement to the everyday nitty gritty of being grateful. It turns out it is pretty simple.
You CHOOSE to be grateful. Choose? What? How?
Yes, you choose. The art of gratitude is in the practice of it. Like any other skill we wish to acquie, gratitude requires practice and practice requires time. So, first we must choose. Second, we must PRACTICE. The good news is that the more we practice, the more grateful we become. As the word itself suggests, the more we practice the more we will be full of “greatness” and the more we will FEEL great. When we feel great, we act great, and when we act great we achieve more. Doesn’t all of this sound awesome?
Let’s talk about some strategies to get you into a more grateful space and quickly!
So, let’s talk about daily gratitude!
1. Get grateful early! Each morning when you wake up, think of three things you are grateful for and WHY!
I am grateful to be alive and healthy (I wasn’t always, so this is a big deal!)
I am grateful that I have everything I need and much of what I want (I never want it all by-the-way. I’m grateful for want too.)
I am grateful for my friends and family (and that they too are healthy.)
2. Start a gratitude journal.
This may seem a little silly, but it works. Writing down your gratitude will help you better recognize what is already good in your life
Ex. I am so grateful that I forgot that person’s name just now. It reminds me to refocus on being mindful of my surroundings and to listen more actively. (I did this one today and I was SO embarrassed. Instead of getting frustrated with myself, I chose to seek out the opportunity to change AND to be grateful for my ability to be better next time.)
3. Active Compassion.
This one isn’t easy friends, but it can make such a difference in your life. We are all on individual journeys and each of us struggles at different times. Though it is tempting at times to get frustrated with the people in our lives, we are all doing the best that we can. Everyone is knee deep in their own lives with their own issues. So, next time you are frustrated, try and look at the other individual (and the situation) with compassion. Perhaps try looking at the situation from a different angle. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. When we look into other people’s journey from a place of compassion we can better see the light and the love in life.
Ultimately, our experience of gratitude is directly related to the amount of effort we put into it. The more we can focus on what is good in our lives and how to cultivate it, the more likely we are to recognize the beauty that is already with us. May your day be filled with joy, and gratitude!