While it is admirable to want to share our gratitude and good feelings with others, we rarely stop to think about what giving gratitude does for us. As it turns out, it does quite a lot for our brains and mental well-being.
Research shows that gratitude can:
increase your energy
improve your physical health
improve your sleep
improve your psychological health
increase social connection
improve mental strength
improve stress management
So, your saying… ok, ok I get it this could be good for me…. But how do I do it?
So below I have outlined what I’ve discovered works best for the majority of my clients based on all the research and advice from mentors I have collected over the years. However, for the best results it’s critical you use these suggestions and tips as merely an idea to cultivate your own gratitude practice that suites your needs. So play around with this until you discover what works for you…
How do you know when it works… because you will begin to experience the benefits listed above when you start incorporating your gratitude practice consistently!?!
To Get Started
For some it is hard to get started because this seems like a unproductive silly exercise and often we are stuck in our head, so the point of this exercise is to build awareness. Thus, it’s most beneficial if you get in the right frame of mind. So this will walk you through the steps to get there, but as this becomes more routine, feel free to customize this routine to suite your needs. Settle yourself by getting comfortable and taking a few deep, calming breaths to relax. Let your awareness move to your current state: all the things you can smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.” Think about the following:
I’m grateful for three things I smell:
I’m grateful for these three things I taste:
I’m grateful for three things I touch/feel:
I’m grateful for three things I see:
I’m grateful for three things I hear:
I’m grateful for these three blue (change the color each day, do you see a pattern?) things:
Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom matter the most to you: your friends, family, partner…. Say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful.”
I’m grateful for these three friends:
I’m grateful for these three mentors:
I’m grateful for these three family members:
I’m grateful for these three co-workers:
I’m grateful for these three animals:
I’m grateful for these three things in my home:
Next, turn your attention onto yourself: you are a unique individual, blessed with imagination, the ability to communicate, to learn from the past and plan for the future, to overcome any pain you may be experiencing. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
Imagine your life with all the things, people, freedoms that matter to you: what does it look like, what does it feel like, what are some of the predominate colors, can you smell anything, how does it make you feel? before you go, perhaps draw a picture of what you just imagined.
Finally, rest in the realization that life is a precious gift. Remember you have the POWER today to CHOOSE to control your thoughts, behaviors, words, and actions that shape your future. Choose wisely….
Use the tips above to boost your gratitude barometer, until you can begin to do this on your own just by getting settled and in the right frame of mind. As you begin to do this less guided this is where the journaling begins.
First write down 7 things you are grateful for now and also that you are imagining and moving towards. i.e. “I am so happy and grateful now that...” or “I am so happy and grateful for…”
Take a few minutes to imagine this precious gift of life you have been given and how the actions and reactions we choose throughout the day shape our future. Are you making the most out of each day? Imagine your desired future self: what does it look like, what does it feel like, what are some of the predominate colors, can you smell anything, how does it make you feel? Once you have a clear picture, ask yourself and the world for guidance… Remember this is where you unleash the power within (so don’t skip this critical part): You and only you have the power to guide you to the actions needed to create what you desire. You already know the solutions to your problems; deep inside, you already know what to do. You just need to learn how to access that knowledge. The truth is that we know more about ourselves than we think. The thing is, most of this knowledge is usually hidden in a rarely accessible part of our mind: our subconscious. Remember you can NOT hide from yourself; it knows the truth.
This is how it works: You might be looking for a solution, a direction, a feeling—whatever it is, make a question of it. Write your questions down, look at them, pounder them for a few moments, then let it go, forget about it. Just before bed, look at the questions you asked yourself. Your conscious mind is most active while you’re awake, so likely if you think about these questions in the morning or during the day you won’t make tons of progress. The subconscious is most active while you sleep. By using your questioning both during the day and at night, it will act as a bridge between both your conscious and subconscious mind, by engaging your whole brain in super effective problem-solving way.
Here are some examples you could be asking yourself:
What event/pattern has been repeating itself in my life lately?
Where do I currently feel stuck?
In which area do I currently have a strong desire to grow?
What do I currently feel is holding me back?
What can I learn from this?
What has happened recently that has left the deepest mark in me?
What does this pain-point tell me about myself?
When have I last been through/felt something similar, and what does that tell me?
What is the real reason why I am avoiding starting this process or improvement?
Which of my core beliefs am I disrespecting by not acting in alignment with my deepest desires?
What is one thing I haven’t noticed that is preventing me from progressing?
What five-minute change can I make that might help me get closer to achieving my goal?
What is one thing that’s working well, and how can I take more advantage of it?
Asking any kind of deep questions will always lead you somewhere good. You will see certain topics and patterns coming up, and that will give you a good idea of where to focus.
Then, send love to 3 people who are bothering you… like the words in Kesha’s song Praying, “I hope you're somewhere prayin', prayin'; I hope your soul is changin', changin'; I hope you find your peace” Then them love and peace.
What is my purpose in connecting with other people in my life?
What makes this person important to me?
Which parts of me (emotions, moods, needs) are out of alignment when there is tension or conflict between me and others?
Finally, find an object you can keep with you throughout the day that will keep this gratitude in the forefront of your mind. Carry this item (i.e. rock, coin, etc) around in your pocket, leave it on your desk where you will see it throughout your day, or even wear it on a chain around your neck or your wrist.
Whenever you see it or touch it, pause to think about at least one thing you are GRATEFUL for. Whether it’s something as small as the sun shining down on you in this moment or as large as the job that allows you to feed yourself or your family, just think of one thing that brings you joy or fulfillment.
When you take the item out of your pocket or off of your body at the end of the day, take a moment to remember the things that you were grateful for throughout the day and REMEMBER to ask yourself those questions you wrote down. When you put it on or in your pocket again in the morning, repeat this process to remember what you are you grateful for.
Not only will this help you remember the things you are grateful for, but also it can trigger mindfulness in your day and all those benefits noted above. It will bring you out of your head and into the present moment, giving you something to focus your attention on. It can also act as a switch to more positive thinking. When you flip this switch multiple times a day, you will likely find that your average day has become much more positive. Remember what you are thinking about you are bringing about!
Remember the three things that will change your life the most is the ability to “SEE IT”, “BELIEVE IT”, & “ACT ON IT”! Doing this exercise each day will naturally allow you to do all three and transform your life.
Here at Stretch Beyond Impossible, we believe in equipping people with the structure and tools necessary to live a life of balance and fulfillment. Our mission is to empower others to overcome everyday obstacles, experience everyday wins, realizing that you have everything you need within, to create the life you desire!!
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