The last two weeks, I have been writing about meditation and other forms of mindfulness practice as well as their many benefits. Today, I would like to share another mindful practice that is extremely rewarding and easy to implement. That practice is gratitude and what better day to write about it than on Thanksgiving.
Like mindfulness and meditation, gratitude has been the subject of recent research and boasts many similar benefits such as:
- increased immunity, lower blood pressure and better sleep
- reduced negative emotions and an all around happier state of being
- Improved relationships
- Feeling less lonely and isolated
According to dictionary.com, the definition of gratitude is :
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful
and the definition of appreciation is:
- gratitude;thankful recognition
- an increase or rise in the value of property, goods, etc.
Notice that I have included the financial definition of appreciation. They say, “what we appreciate, appreciates” and I find this to be very true. When we are thankful, we are much more likely to notice more good about a person or situation, thus making us more thankful. I also believe that what we put our attention on grows. When you are grateful for something, your attention is focused on it ,which will help it appreciate.
When focusing on the positive in my life and giving thanks daily for those things, people, experiences and places, I draw more of them into my life. I’ve also noticed that when I try to find the good in a situation, no matter how difficult it may be, I feel much more positive and hopeful about it and am more likely to take positive action and be effective.
There are many simple ways to implement gratitude into your daily life. Remember that gratitude is a feeling, not just a thought. Therefore, feeling the joy and other positive emotions that gratitude brings are very important in order to get the most out of this practice and what make it so rewarding.
Here is a list of my favorite ways to practice gratitude in my daily life:
- Wake up thankful – every morning, when I wake up, I think of 3 things I am thankful for that day. I take a minute to truly feel the joy that comes along with appreciation.
- Meals – I say a little prayer of gratitude before every meal. OK, maybe its not such a little prayer. I actually get pretty detailed here. I specifically give thanks for all that contributed to the meal, including the elements of nature, the food specifically (I give extra special thanks to the animal if there is meat involved). I thank any person that handled the food on its way to my plate including farmers, store clerks, delivery people etc. I then thank myself for purchasing and preparing the food (or whoever purchased and prepared the food) and last but not least, I thank all of my clients, who provided me with the income to purchase the food. I then ask that my body be nourished, and that it may easily absorb any of the nutrients found in the food. I really love this practice because there are so many people and elements involved and it helps me feel connected to the world on a larger level.
- Gratitude Journal – This is a practice that I got from my sister, Jessica, who had been doing it for a while and related all of the wonderful benefits to me. Every night, before bed, I write 2 pages of gratitude in my journal. The first page includes things that presently exist in my life. The second page includes things that I have not yet manifested. The intention here is that by putting positive attention on my desires, it will help draw them to me. I’ve been doing this nightly for a while now and have to say I am so grateful for my written practice of gratitude as it really has changed my outlook, helped me be more positive and it has even helped me narrow down what it is I really want out of life and why.
- Looking for the silver lining – This one is easier said than done, however I find that when practiced consistently, it makes a big difference in how we handle the inevitable challenges of life. Whenever something happens to me that I would normally label as bad or unfortunate, I try to find the good in the situation. I’m sure you’ve all experienced blessing in disguise at some point in your life. Something bad happens, and later it turns out that it led to something amazing. I like to think of all the negative events in my life as blessings in disguise. Sometimes when I do this, I am actually able to see how they might benefit me, other times I just have to stay hopeful that somehow they will. I do know that with every experience comes a lesson, and the hardest experiences tend to be the best teachers. So even if I can’t truly find anything to appreciate about a situation, I do my best to give thanks for the lesson that is inherent, even if I have not yet figured out what it is.
Please remember that part of what makes gratitude practices so wonderful, are the actual feelings of joy and happiness that are inherent in them. Whenever you are giving thanks, make sure to take a moment to truly feel the appreciation in your body and enjoy all of its health giving benefits.
If you’d like to comment or share any of your gratitude practices, I would love to hear about them. Please comment below.
Happy Thanksgiving, today and every day!!!
© Copyright 2014 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving