5 ways to make your life better with small gratitude practices

Posted by Jo Harris on

When times are tough, it can be difficult to be grateful. You are in Melbourne (or elsewhere) in lockdown again. You have no or little income because of the closures of your business or place of work. You have a kid (or kids at home) who are doing (or resisting) online schooling and need your intervention or time. Your relationship is at its limit and you have no family around for support (or they're far away). It is really easy to focus on what you don't like or what is hard, too easy! But is it possible that what you focus on, is what you attract more of in your life? The law of attraction says exactly this, that what we focus on is what we attract, as everything is energy and like attracts like. So do you want more of those negative things (which would possibly end up in a mental health crisis) or do you want to focus on more of what you want to bring into your life?

The word grateful comes from the Latin gratus which means pleasing or happy. It means feeling or showing appreciation and thanks. It can be to someone else for something they do for you or give to you but it can also be to yourself or for things that we receive on a daily basis, even sunshine or rain. It extends from our mind to our heart and to our senses. Being grateful soothes our mind and makes us happier for everything we have and receive and it reminds us not to take things for granted. 

Did you also know that on the energy vibration scale, gratitude is way up there with love? So that means the more we practice gratitude, the higher we vibrate, so we get more of these positive feelings back and we move towards the feelings and life that we actually want. Also, the more gratitude we feel, the more dopamine and serotonin (https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/) that are released and the better we feel. So simple, right? 

Research shows that focussing on gratitude increases our well-being and satisfaction with life and even increases our immune system. This research is not only done with happy, well adjusted people but also those experiencing mental health challenges. It is believed that focussing on gratitude makes your mind focus more on positive emotions rather than negative ones. You can't be positive and negative at the same time!

Due to findings of longer studies done, it is also believed that gratitude changes the brain and has long lasting effects, although even when you just start doing it, you may feel better immediately afterwards. 

Studies also show how gratitude decreases stress and pain and can even decrease feelings of depression. 

Everybody has something in their life and their day to be grateful for. Think of the little things if nothing big is jumping out at you right now. It could be as simple as your teenager grumpily mentioning 'thanks' when you cook them dinner, or a child's passing smile, your cat's purring or your dog's tail wags. It could be the sun shining outside or that lovely warm shower you had this morning. Even when you think nothing is working for you, if you just try to think of something which made you happy even if for a fleeting moment in your day, I can bet you will find something. 

Practices for gratitude

Gratitude journal: write a few sentences everyday on what you are grateful for  in your life even if it seems like there is nothing, even if you only have $200 in your bank account. After you write these sentences, read them back and then focus on how these things make you feel. 

Before sleeping: if you focus on something positive, you will put an end to ruminating on the things that didn't go according to plan in your day. So think of 3 things that you are grateful for that happened or you saw or did during the day. You can also do this if you wake up during the night to put your mind in a more positive place. if you can't think of anything, think about how comfortable your bed is, or that your heart is beating giving you the gift of life. I am sure there are many things you will think of. 

Gratitude meditation: similar to the above exercise but a little more involved. Start with your focus on your breath then think about the things that you are grateful for and then feel where you can feel those feelings in your body and how they make you feel. Alternatively, do a body scan where you focus on each part of your body from your toes upwards and think why you are grateful for each part of your body, even for the breath coming into your lungs.  

Gratitude jar: find a jar and when you are in a happy place, write down something you are grateful for on a small strip of paper and pop it in the jar. Then when you are not in such a happy place, take one (or more) strip of paper out to remind you of what you are grateful for in your life. 

Say thanks: make more of an effort to say thanks and notice when people thank you, even to small gestures like the car driver who is switching lanes and waves to you to express appreciation. Notice how these make you feel. 

Positive affirmations (repeat out loud, in your mind, write them down or draw them, or read them. These are some of the ways to use positive affirmations)

I am grateful for everything in my life.

I am grateful for the abundance that I have.

My friends and family bring beauty to my life and I am so thankful for them.

I am thankful to have this gift of life. 

I am grateful for my body and everything it does for me. 

I am grateful for my resilience, it allows me to thrive. 

I am grateful for the love that I give and receive. 

Tune in to social media where I will reveal my favourite essential oil & crystal for gratitude and a tapping (EFT) script for gratitude. 

 

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