5 Ways To Start Your Gratitude Practice
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s got us thinking… how often do we take time to think about what we're grateful for? Once we started, we realized just how much there is to be thankful for. A moment of silence while you sip your morning coffee (or focus fuel perhaps?), the lady that held the door for you while your hands were piled with groceries, or the man who smiled as he passed you on the subway platform. But did we show gratitude back? Did we say thank you? With the business of life, we often overlook the simple things. Practicing gratitude has shown to improve your mood, increase sleep quality, reduce stress and even make you more resilient - but how do you do it? Here are 5 ways you can practice gratitude everyday:
It’s no secret that an amazing way to start that day is through meditation, but if you’re anything like us, you often wonder if you’re even doing it right. IS there even such thing as a “right” way? Not necessarily, but we’ve come up with some helpful tips and tricks to keep you Zen, focused and grateful for yesterday and what’s to come today. Start by finding a quiet space, closing your eyes and anchoring yourself to the present moment. Using your breath to hold your body still, feel it sinking into the ground giving you stability. Savour this moment and let your mind drift, revel in the good moments that come to mind. Next, use your senses to bring gratitude into your mediation. Recall a sight that you are grateful for, picturing the details and remembering how it made you feel. Once it’s in your mind, shift to a scent you appreciate, listen to the sounds around you and lastly make note of the textures you feel. Once you have found appreciation in sight, smell, sound and touch you can begin to open your eyes noticing and appreciating the objects around you. It's always great to end your meditation with a promise to carry this attitude of gratitude forward with you throughout your day. Another great aspect to add to this is the concept of “casting” grateful thoughts forwards and backwards, meaning you think back to one thing you were grateful for yesterday and think ahead to one you are looking forward to today.
VISUAL GRATITUDE REMINDER:
Busy schedules can often get in the way of practicing self-care. This can leave you feeling burned out and depleted. Remembering to be grateful is no exception. Research shows that people who exhibit gratitude on a regular basis are happier, enjoy an increased wellbeing, see reduced symptoms of depression and even sleep better! Seems easy enough, right? We know better than anyone that this is easier said than done, but that’s where visual gratitude reminders come in. Gratitude reminders are anything that triggers or represents thoughts about things you are grateful for, such as an inspiring quote, picture of a loved one, or even a photo of a place you’d like to go. Putting these up in places you look often (the fridge, our laptop, the bathroom mirror) can serve as friendly reminders to practice gratitude. Eventually these little reminders will become a subconscious practice in your gratitude journey.
SHARE YOUR GRATITUDE:
Sharing your gratitude is, in our opinion, a very important part of this list. As people, we often think things without saying them aloud. For example, someone holds the door open for us: do we say thank you? Well, we’re Canadian here at Organic Traditions so the answer is most likely yes but that’s besides the point. So often other people do kind things for us without us taking the time to acknowledge our appreciation out loud. Many studies have proven that expressing gratitude to others strengthens relationships immensely. In fact, expressing something you’re grateful for to another person helps our brains to replay the situation and doubles our happiness factor since our brains can’t tell the difference between the real and replayed version. It's as if it's happening all over again! Interesting right? Who knew swapping nice memories and kind moments could have such an effect?
Having a gratitude jar seems like a silly thing but we promise, it’s one of those things you never knew you needed. Take an empty jar, some blank strips of paper and a pen and place them somewhere visible in your house. Each day, you write down something you are grateful for and put the paper into the jar. This can serve as a visual reminder of all of the things you are grateful for. The best part is, if you're ever feeling down you can always take a note out of the jar to remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for.
Much like the gratitude jar, a gratitude journal helps you to reflect on the past, relish in the present and be hopeful for the future. Writing down not only moments of gratitude, but also recalling ordinary moments, helps to intertwine an easily sustainable habit of gratitude into your everyday life. In fact, researchers compared two groups: ones who wrote down things they were grateful for vs those who wrote down neutral recollections or hassles. The results showed that the former, those who wrote down things they were thankful for, exercised more, had fewer physical symptoms and overall felt better and happier about their lives. Another way to work a gratitude journal into your schedule is by ending your day with an entry. By writing down roughly 3 things, or any number of your choosing, it has a proven, direct effect on your happiness. By replaying the positive moments in your life, the journal gives you something to look back on in troubling times. So, whether it is first thing in the morning, or your last thing at night, it helps you build the habit of noticing gratitude more often throughout your day and being able to identify these instances more easily.
At the end of all of this, practice makes perfect, and repetition is a friend of gratitude. It may not happen overnight, but we promise that with some dedication and consistency the positive vibes will be flowing. Soon enough you’ll be surprised by all the things there are to be grateful for!
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