Well my hunnies, there’s a method to the madness (I hope you know that by now). I’m not lecturing you on being grateful for the fun of it. I’m reminding you of the importance of gratitude because of its strong positive correlation to wellness. Research (such as this white paper by Berkley) shows that regularly practicing gratitude reduces depression, increases happiness, and even (positively) alters your brain over time.
Importantly, gratitude is like a muscle. It takes time to strengthen and reap the rewards, but if you work it often and intensely enough you build up a muscle memory that means it gets easier and more automatic over time.
So, where is the practicality? How do you tangibly implement gratitude practice into your life? I gotchu, girl. Read on.
3 Easy Gratitude Exercises
1. Gratitude journal – This is my favorite strategy, because it allows you to keep a log of your gratitude. This way, on days where you’re feeling a bit short on things to be thankful for, or just need a little bit of a mood boost it’s super easy to go back and reread your entries to remind yourself of all the good in your life. Bonus hack: if you feel like a journal is too much/too high effort, modify it! If you like and use planners, make it a part of your planner routine. Most planners have a space for notes. If you usually fill out your planner in the mornings or evenings before bed, end your routine with jotting down some quick gratitude items for the day. If you’re more of a digital person, keep a running notes list in your phone. It’s truly whatever works best for you and allows you to be consistent.
2. Mindfulness gratitude – This one is cool because you can do it anywhere. Morning commute? Check. Coffee break? Check. In bed? Check! My favorite time to practice this is in the evenings once I’m in bed and ready to drift off to sleep. I practice a quick body scan, slowly checking in with every part of my body and noticing sensations while listing off things I’m grateful for. I tend to start with the basics. Those things that you forget to be grateful for and take for granted (trust me, I’m super guilty of this too, we all are!). Things like having a solid roof over my head, nutritious food in my fridge, clean water, PLUMBING, air conditioning, reliable transportation, etc. Then I move on to people/pets, things, places, and any other luxuries I have. I drift off to sleep feeling lucky, happy, and grateful to be alive. Try it, you won’t regret it.
3. Mindful eating – Before you scoff at this, think of how many people don’t have food in their fridge, think of how you have more food than you probably need. Think of how you get to CHOOSE what you want to eat, and have fun foods to eat, not just the necessary items for survival. If you really look at it, you’re lucky to have all of the food you consume on a daily basis. So why not stop and smell the roses? Next time you have a meal try to savor every bite. Notice the textures and tastes, notice how you feel satiated afterwards. Think of all of the work that had to happen to get that food on your plate and feel gratitude for the world’s infrastructure, agricultural systems, and much more that allow you to be fed on a daily basis.
That’s all for now folks. Thanksgiving may be over, but gratitude never should be.
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