Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools I’ve used to change my outlook on life for the better.
It started out with a friend posting a list of 3 things she was grateful for on Facebook every day. It was so interesting reading her posts I got curious. What am I grateful for? I wondered. She inspired me to start posting my own list, which I did for a few months.
At first it was actually really hard to think of 3 things a day. But I made a commitment to myself that I would do it, so I had to dig deep. My first few posts were comical. I was grateful for it being only minus 20 instead of 30 for example.
What I discovered though, is that the more I searched for things to be grateful for, the more there were.
Now I can honestly say I could rattle of 50 or so things I am grateful for without even trying.
There’s some scientific reason for it, the name of which I can’t remember, but which basically states that what you focus on expands.
It’s like if you buy a new car, or mention something you haven’t heard of for awhile, and then all of a sudden you will hear about that thing or see the same car as yours everywhere. It’s because your unconscious mind starts looking for and pointing out what you’d already been focusing on.
I believe my mind can only have one thought at a time, so if I am consciously focusing on what I am grateful for, these thoughts can replace the ones that tell me about all the things that I don’t have, or all my worries of the future and regrets of the past.
I’ve continued my practice of gratitude each night in my journal. It’s so nice to take a few minutes to appreciate what I have, and how lucky I am to have my basic needs met, never mind all the other wonderful things in my life.
And besides, gratitude feels good! I can actually feel a physical feeling of warm happiness in my belly when I practice gratitude.
I believe this practice has increased my quality of life, appreciation for what I have and my ability to truly enjoy moments of joy.
Why not try it and you can see for yourself?
Another interesting spin on gratitude lists is from Melodie Beattie, who wrote a book called Make miracles happen in 40 days.
The object is to write a different kind of gratitude list first thing in the morning, within a half hour of waking up. Under the words “today I am grateful for” you then write down all the things you Are least grateful for. All your fears, worries, and the things you aren’t happy about in your life.
I did this for 40 days and found that in the beginning, I could very easily come up with 10 things I was most certainly NOT grateful for. But by about halfway through, I was finding it harder and harder to genuinely feel ungrateful or resentful for 10 things.
And as a bonus, all the things I wrote down each morning seemed less dreadful simply by being thanked.
I have the words ” gratitude is a verb” written on my fridge. It helps me to remember that I have a choice. I can choose to take actions such as these to incorporate gratitude into my life. I can have the warm feeling of gratitude each and every day if I choose it.
And for that, I am grateful.
Sample evening list: grateful for food in the fridge, sunshine, good day at work, my dog, feeling useful, warm place to sleep, great friends, inspiration, abundance, great hair day.
sample morning list: today I am grateful that: I am out of toothpaste, economic insecurity, too much to do, sore knees, never ending housework, procrastination, perfectionism, too little sleep, fear of rejection, fear of asking for what I deserve.