It feels like you can’t get far through social media channels these days without there being articles about gratitude, being #blessed or giving back. I’ve talked a few times myself about gratitude and it being part of my life, in fact in last week’s article I listed 10 things I am grateful for every day.
I know that when life is throwing all kinds of shit at you that you can feel anything but grateful. The very thought of sitting and musing over what you have to be #blessed for is not only vomit inducing but seems impossible. But in all honesty, that’s exactly the reason why you should be doing it.
find yourself complaining all the time…
are quick to snap and judge your partner/kids/the sales assistant…
are tired of the grind and never feeling happy…
…then gratitude might be just what you need to reconnect to positivity, feeling in control and getting back to yourself.
I mentioned in last week’s article, that telling people to be grateful may sound a little trite – and I thought about that afterwards. Why did I feel the need to play down such an important part of how I get through the day still sane, when in reality, there is so much science and anecdotal evidence grounded in the mindful practice of gratitude.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
The fact is, that gratitude is an activity that can change your state of mind, your life and even your fortune.
The science of gratitude
Yes, people study this stuff which makes me so happy and grateful before I even start. It takes something that can seem intangible or fluffy and gives it a backbone. For the doubters, a nice bit of science is always handy.
A 2003 study (which is pretty interesting should you be so inclined), looked at what happened when people focused on gratitude, hassles or neutral life events. Results found “that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits”. Not only that, but those practising gratitude got more sleep, awoke feeling more refreshed and in less physical pain. I mean, it’s absolutely nuts right? Why wouldn’t you want a piece of that pie?
Another study from 2008 (probably a bit hard going this one…) found that practising gratitude stimulates a key part of the brain that regulates stress and the part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure. So being grateful makes you less stressed and gives you more pleasure…SCIENCE SAID SO.
I could go on and if you need more, Forbes published this list of 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude that covers relationships, health, sleep, self-esteem and more.
And yes, I hear you.
OK Sugar Plum Fairy, how the bloody hell am I supposed to feel all this gratitude when I ACTUALLY feel like a worn out old dishcloth?
Here some practical ways that you can add the practice of gratitude into your life, easily and effortlessly, and start to feel those amazing effects for yourself. Give it a go and see how you feel.
The easy peasy way
Simply think, or say, what you are grateful for. By the way, saying ‘THANKS!’ to other people for who they are or what they do totally counts. Plus it’s a really nice thing to do….
You can slip this method in when you wake up, before you go to sleep or in a quiet moment in your day, over a coffee, on the bloody toilet if you have to. But start here.
The slightly up a notch way
Get a little notebook and again, as you get up, or before you go to sleep or anywhere you have a spare few minutes, write down a few things you have to be grateful for. Janis does 10 a day ever since reading The Magic. I’m not that disciplined and three or five always seems like a more manageable number.
TIP: make sure the notebook is gorgeous, it might seem silly but its far nicer to get your OOOH gorgeous notebook out than a dog eared old shopping list pad. You can actually buy gratitude journals with prompts. Personally, they annoy me as they presume how I want to start my sentence and how much I want to write…but they are often beautiful and have lots of inspiration added to them so whatever works for you and holds your interest, do it.
The bit more woowoo way
The Secret series also recommends getting a gratitude rock – a small stone you can hold in your hand that is smooth and feels nice – and you hold this in your hand at night and focus on all of the things you are grateful for. That little rock is then a constant physical reminder and anchor for your positivity and gratitude practice.
There are also methods such as writing things down and having them stuck to your mirror or fridge, anywhere you see regularly and letting them permeate that way. This can work for things you WANT to happen too (this is more into manifesting territory but is all grounded in gratitude driving good things happening).
The scholarly way (well sort of)
There are so many beautiful books that can help you to really feel, understand and get down with the practice of gratitude. The Secret series is big in this house but I loved The Magic as you are challenged every day to complete new ways of practising gratitude and this of course helps you to find the way that works for you best. The books of Eckhart Tolle are also a great resource.
The generous way
Spend time every week thinking about who you are grateful to and for what. Let them know. Send them an email or even a little gift or card (who doesn’t love getting letters??). I am a big believer in saying thanks or recognising what people have done, if appropriate with a promise to return the love/favour/arse saving.
The time it takes to do it, once you invite gratitude into your day is FAR outweighed by the benefits. I go through slack patches, who doesn’t, where it all gets too much and I just forget to focus on the good. It’s a spiral that’s not worth getting into and as soon as I notice it, the first thing I do is get grateful. Within days, I feel better, more on top of things, in love with life and like anything is possible.
I’ll leave you with a salient quote from Charles Dickens – proving that perhaps gratitude is an enduring trend…
“Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” —Charles Dickens
Feeling inspired to start a gratitude practice? Let me know how you go. And THANKS for reading this… x