The Practice of Gratitude
MINDSET: The Practice of Gratitude
“Gratitude is the gateway to a positive life.”
About a year ago I started keeping a Gratitude Journal. I really didn’t think at the time about calling it a “Gratitude Journal”, I just said that I was journaling. The funny thing is the outside of the journal actually says, “Gratitude Journal: Notice The Good In Every Day”. As I practiced daily journaling, I followed the prompts inside the journal. One page has an area for listing what you are grateful for, describing what you feel/are that day, and a doodle of the day. When I first started, I was pretty superficial with my writing, not too descriptive or in depth. The “Doodle of the Day” gave me the giggles as I am the worst in my household at drawing. And writing down descriptions of myself felt very weird to me.
When I look back at my journaling, I wrote that I was grateful for my family, for my pets, for my job. Sounds kinda normal, right? But as I look at the progression of my journaling I start seeing a shift in what I was grateful for. I start seeing how I would elaborate on WHY I was grateful. For instance, during Covid last year, one of my “gratefuls” was “Delays in Life” because it gave me time with my kids (they are both in college, so we all know that means an empty house). Those delays gave me time to exercise more, to spend more time taking care of my home, to cook healthy meals for my family. That specific delay last year also gave me one of the best accountability partners and friends that I cherish dearly.
The doodling? Well, let’s just say that started out a little rough! A lot of days were hearts, who can’t draw hearts? Then I started drawing pumpkins, coffee cups, lettering. I must say it was very therapeutic! And, it made me happy!
Gratitude, the quality of being thankful. Gratitude, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Not sure about you, but I think the world can use a lot of kindness today. So let’s look at the practice of gratitude. Some people seem to just have it, they are thankful for anything and everything. They are people I love to be around! They find positivity in just about everything.
Practicing Gratitude is something we can do anytime of the day or anywhere. We can spend a few minutes a day either journaling, thinking, or talking gratitude. Really thinking about the good in any situation, seeing the good in a person, looking for the positive in a challenging situation. For instance, Covid last year was very challenging for many people. For myself, pre-Covid I was seriously talking about the need for more time, a break, a chance to just catch my breath! And then bam! Covid Hit- not to dismiss the seriousness of it. But, my grateful of the situation is it gave me the break in life I was needing, was wanting.
I have mentioned before taking the 75 Hard Challenge. One of the phases has a task of taking a 5-minute cold shower- not pleasant in the wintertime. One suggestion was to take your regular shower, then finish with 5 minutes of cold water. And that was acceptable. So of course, I did this, took my regular shower then finished with the “cool down” as I called it. I decided that I would use this time to practice being grateful. The cold water really awakened my senses, obviously making me very alert. My thinking became very clear. One thing I started thinking about was how grateful I was for water. Something as simple as water, it has so many benefits we take for granted! It cleanses us, it can be soothing, we can cook with it, it hydrates us, keeps us alive. So, every time I took a shower I talked out loud about all the great things about water. I am sure my family was wondering who/what I was talking about.
The more we practice, amazing things can happen. Have you ever been around a true pessimist? Someone who has a negative comment about everything, a negative outlook about every situation. When you are trying to reach goals yourself or are working on being positive, it is difficult to spend a lot of time with a negative, pessimistic person. On the other hand, it is easy to spend time with a grateful, positive person!
The HappierHuman.com website has an article about the “31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide.” I won’t list all of these benefits, but the article goes into depth about how practicing gratitude makes us happier, more likable, healthier, can boost our careers, increases our positive emotions, among other benefits. The article states that studies show that people who practice gratitude become more optimistic and grow their self-esteem. Not sure about you, but all of these benefits sound pretty good to me!
As you go about your healthy mindset practices, take about 5-10 minutes a day to journal about what you are grateful for. List about 3 gratefuls each day, taking time to elaborate on WHY you are grateful for these things. Like myself, you may start out with some easy gratefuls, then later start thinking a little more deeply about WHY you are grateful for them. Taking time while you are driving to look for positives that have either occurred that day or week is a great way to continue the practice. And, to take the practice of gratitude a step farther, think about a challenging situation in the past and find a positive that came out of it.
Once you start practicing gratitude, the easier it becomes to see the “good” or positive in a lot of situations. Just like many of the things we continue to talk about, this small practice will become a habit and part of your daily, healthy living!