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How to create a gratitude practice

February 18, 2016

Gratitude is being researched by scientists, and it has been proven to have significant benefits for us.  The list of benefits below is from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley which intends to “expand the science and practice of gratitude.”

 

- Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure

- Higher levels of positive emotions

- More joy, optimism, and happiness

- Acting with more generosity and compassion

- Feeling less lonely and isolated.

 

A gratitude practice, the weaving of gratitude into our daily lives through various means, has been strongly encouraged by some of my heroes and heroines:  

 

Elizabeth Gilbert is famous for her yearly happiness jar. 

 

Brene Brown has a similar practice with her family. 

 

Glennon Doyle Melton of the Momastery blog encourages us to have a gratitude journal

 

For a deeper dive, here’s Eckhart Tolle on gratitude

 

And, there’s this from the dearest of dears, Anne Lamott, from her sweet book,Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers”:

 

“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”

 

Deepak Chopra has 3 suggestions for practicing gratitude:

  1.  Keep a gratitude journal
  2.  Write a thank you letter.
  3.  Take a gratitude walk.

He tells us how to get these habits into our lives and provides further benefits of gratitude.

 

There’s this lovely tribute to our favorite neighbor:  “...no one in television has done more to teach us about gratitude, about grace, about loving your neighbor and finding the joy in small moments quite like Mr. Rogers.”  

 

Over the years, I've had gratitude jars, made evidence lists of abundance in my life, kept a journal... This is how I practice gratitude these days:  

  • I begin each day with by saying thank you to my Divine (a Wayne Dyer practice; there are multiple articles on gratitude on his blog). 
  • I connect with nature daily, if even briefly, as I feel some of my deepest gratitude when communing with it, soaking it in, noticing all I can:  textures, colors, shapes, smell, what has changed, what’s the same, seeing different species, finding joy in trees and flowers and plants and clouds and rain and snow…
  • I write down things I’m grateful for daily in my planner, which has become a journal.  
  • I tell someone I appreciate them each day.  It’s wonderful to see the expression on someone’s face when they are not expecting that, especially strangers.  They light up, stand straighter, smile big, and seem to relax and expand at the same time.
  • If I get stressed (which, I can honestly say happens less and less over time because of practicing gratitude daily), I switch my focus and list things I’m grateful for, which immediately shifts my energy and makes me feel better physically and emotionally, and inevitably helps me problem solve and dissolve the stress quickly.   
  • And, I end my day with a prayer of thanks to my Divine.

Consciously being grateful has made my life richer, more peaceful.  It’s helped improve my relationships, to feel far more connected and grounded to the Earth, and to be mindful in the present moment.  It’s helped me see the world more fully, appreciate things I might never have even noticed, and truly celebrate what matters most to me.

 

If you are wanting to feel better in life on all levels, cultivating gratitude as a way of living will get you there the most quickly and with the most love.   

 



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