Start a Gratitude Practice - Here's How
The Power of Gratitude – What Gratitude Is and Isn’t
Gratitude is not an attitude in our minds. It is a feeling. It resonates within the physical body, rising from the recognition of love, goodness, and of grace.
We tend to look for situations, people, or possessions for which we can be grateful. However, you can also practice having a consciousness of gratitude for things that no longer exist or are absent. For example; circumstances or individuals that have been removed from our lives by our own will, by fate, or by divine intervention.
It’s a myth that gratitude is all or nothing. Meaning, if you feel gratitude, then you can’t have other emotions around a person or situation. The truth is, you can feel gratitude and discomfort simultaneously. As in feeling anger and also seeing the blessing of a situation. A good example of this is the death of a loved one who had been suffering. If you connect to the power of gratitude, you can feel the loss and also feel grateful that the loved one is no longer suffering.
Gratitude connects with our soul – not ego. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention to the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook experienced the following effects:
Felt better about their lives as a whole
Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
Felt optimistic about the future
Got sick less often
Exercised more regularly
Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
Felt stronger during trying times
Enjoyed closer family ties
Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
Experienced fewer symptoms of stress
Practice the Power of Gratitude
Keep a Gratitude Journal. Here's how:
Write down what you’re thankful for. One option is to simply write 3 things you are grateful for (from others or in general) and 3 things that you are grateful for from yourself. This is a great practice for self-love and self-acknowledgment. Another option is to write daily: Who or what inspired me today? What brought me happiness today? What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
Handwritten Thank You Letters
Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation. A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love that will continue to ripple out into the Universe.
You can connect to the power of gratitude through walking and being present. Begin with your intention to focus on what you are thankful for. Take a few deep breaths before you walk. Look around, get present and begin walking.
As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful. These might be nurturing relationships, material comforts, the body that allows you to experience the world, the mind that allows you to really understand yourself, or your essential spiritual nature. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Pay attention to your senses – everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting.
See how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.
Support your Practice
Schedule your gratitude journaling, walks, or other practices in your calendar and set an alarm for it in your phone. Create visual reminders, as in a vision board, notes on your desk, water label blessings, candles, and crystals. Wear or place crystals in your environment. Consider wearing rhodonite, chrysoprase, citrine, sectarian, and green aventurine. Meditate with jade in your receptive hand and rose quartz in your dominant hand.
While it’s easy to get distracted by lack, wants, and desires, the practice of being in gratitude makes what we have more than enough. As Melody Beattie beautifully said: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”