The Gift of Gratitude
Each morning when we wake, our mood and vision for the coming day significantly impacts our interactions and perspective. Whatever lens we choose to look through affect the outcome in every situation. Most days we don’t even realize that we are viewing the world through our own lens. We don’t recognize that we have the power to choose how we see, interact, and engage with the world.
Setting intention is a powerful way to keep yourself present and mindful in every situation. The more you practice mindful intention setting in your day to day life, the more accessible it will be in highly challenging situations.
Setting the intention of gratitude is an incredibly powerful and fulfilling tool. Gratitude literally means “being thankful and ready to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. There is so much that we take for granted as we hustle through each day just to reach the end and then hit repeat. The world can become a much more opened and exciting place when you make the effort to focus on all there is to be thankful for.
Here are some of the benefits that researchers have found in people who practice gratitude:
Scored higher on happiness evaluation test
Feel more positive about their life
Feel more motivated
Have stronger relationships
Are more productive
Less likely to need medical intervention for illness
The benefits of practicing gratitude not only improve your own well-being but also improves the lives of those around you. Gratitude is contagious. One simple act of kindness can set off a chain of events that can touch the lives of many. Being a gracious person can change your community for the better. This is one of the greatest benefits of all. Being aware of how your actions and intentions not only effect your own life but also the lives of those close to you and those you don’t even know.
How to start a gratitude practice
Journaling: Keep a journal specifically to reflect on gratitude. Each night take a moment to write down five things that happened during the day that you were grateful for. This can be things that happened to you or things you witnessed. This practice will open your eyes to the small acts of kindness all around you.
When you start journaling it is easy to let it slide after a few weeks or even days. Don’t abandon your practice. Make a commitment to yourself and to your community to focus on become a gracious person. It only takes a few minutes each day. You can revisit you journal entries when you need some inspiration as well.
Giving thanks: This is a personal practice of mine that I have found to be of great benefit. Each Monday I take a few minutes to send an email or text message to someone thanking them for something specific. Sometimes I am thanking them for a favor they did or for some advice they offered; other times I send a message letting them know that I am thankful just to know them or call them a friend. I commit to this practice every week and have been doing so for just over a year. It has helped me see how fortunate I am to have such wonderful people in my life. It also helps me to recognize that people mostly have good intentions and want to share and help others.
This Practice is easy and not only benefits you but also help you share your gratitude with others. You can write a personal letter or note, send a text or email, or whatever works for you. Pick a day and time and mark it on your calendar to stay consistent. This practice will have an immediate impact and help you strengthen your relationships and your community around kindness.
Meditate on gratitude: This practice can help change your mindset when you are feeling negative or unfocused. Take 10-20 minutes to sit quietly and reflect on the thing that bring you joy. As a memory or thought of something comes to mind let yourself thank the thought or memory. Feel your mind and heart fill with gratitude as you reflect on your blessings.
This is a powerful practice that can revitalize your focus and help you release negative energy. You can use this practice as needed or make a regular commitment for greater benefit. Meditation can be challenging for some because we are so used to distracting ourselves. This practice is a bit easier than traditional types of meditation. Instead of “clearing your mind” or having a general stream of consciousness the intention is to focus on specific thoughts and memories. This type of meditation can also help make other forms of meditation more accessible.
Try one or a few of these practices for yourself and share these ideas with others and let us know about your own gratitude practices and ideas. We would love to hear from you about your experience.
Arrabella Schippers MMT, CPT, CHC