Re-framing Gratitude

As we approach a season that magnifies joy as we feel grateful, I wanted to revisit the concept of gratitude. Being grateful is a key pillar to living a joyful, mindful, and balanced life, but what is it really, what does it entail, and what are the benefits? 

It’s easy to feel grateful every once in a while, when something significant and blatantly joyful or beneficial happens. We feel overwhelmed with gratitude when we get a promotion, a new car, a new family member, etc. But what about the little things? Do you feel grateful when the sun shines on a day when you are running errands, or when it rains right as your plants are growing dry? 

When we make gratitude an everyday habit, our lives become more joyful as we program our brains to find happiness in the little things. And as we become more busy with the approaching holiday season, if we are already practicing everyday gratitude we will find even more joy amidst the chaos and stress of the holidays, where we otherwise might struggle to enjoy this time with our families.

The daily prompts in the JMB Living Journal are all related to practicing gratitude. As you answer the prompts each day, your mind will be trained to look for beauty, joy, gratitude, and successes without even thinking about it. These prompts increase reflection but are also designed to help you experience more happiness and gratitude as you recognize the good things in your life.

How Can We Re-frame Gratitude?

 

Gratitude is a general concept. You can be grateful for anything as long as you adapt the perspective and have an open mind. Almost anything can be framed as a blessing if you shift your perspective. Sometimes the loss of a job creates an opportunity for a new job that you are more passionate about. The end of a relationship can mean a new beginning, a chance for personal growth, healing, and strengthening your relationship with yourself. Once you adopt this ability to look for the good and the opportunities in all things, you will be able to celebrate more joys and bask in daily wins.

That is not to say that you won’t have times of sadness, frustration and other challenging emotions. These won’t go away because you are practicing gratitude and sometimes they may even linger for longer than you may like. However, after you have allowed yourself to feel these more negative emotions and are ready to move past them, gratitude will be easier for you to access when you’ve made a practice of it.

Gratitude is also something that can be stored away. Some of us struggle in the winter time with seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression) and cannot seem to find joy in even the big things. When you are spending every day throughout the year noticing gratitude, you will have a storage bank of joy to revisit at times when you can find none. 

Memories, nostalgia, and sentimentality can be a wonderful source of emotional warmth. How do you feel when you feel grateful? Do you feel a warmth in your chest, a tingle in your heart, a sense of calmness spreading across your brain? When you find a moment of gratitude at any time in the year, no matter how big or how small, savor the moment and store away that feeling. Then, when you come across a period of time where you’re struggling to find joy or gratitude, remember that day and all the little nuances of it that helped to make you feel happy at the time. Allow the feelings of happiness to flood back through your physical body and your mind and shelter in its warmth.

How to Welcome More Gratitude into Your Life

  • Be Present

    • Little things worthy of gratitude happen to us each day. Are you paying attention enough to capture them?

  • Notice Abundance

    • We don’t need big things or big events to be grateful. What do you have in your life already that you can be grateful for simply having? A hot meal? A soft bed? A shoulder to lean on?

  • Let it Multiply

    • When you feel the warm, pleasant feeling that gratitude brings, intentionally let yourself bask in it for a bit. Let it be like sinking into a warm bath at the end of a long day, with the feeling flowing from the heart to all areas of your body.

  • Shift Your Perspective

    • If at the end of a day you think you haven’t experienced any joy or felt gratitude, go back through your day and re-evaluate what happened. What experiences can you shift to a positive light to be grateful for?

  • Be Consistent

    • With the use of the JMB Living Journal, you will practice gratitude at least once daily when you fill it out for the day. Make practicing gratitude a daily practice, leaving time to your morning or night routine to reflect and find things to be grateful for.

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