Taking Gratitude Up a Notch

gratitude-journal

 

It’s a fairly well known fact that gratitude can produce positive emotions and feelings of happiness. And as a result, when practiced on a regular basis, feeling gratitude can even make a positive impact on your overall health and well being. Some recent studies have even shown it to have lasting effects on the brain. So it is not surprising that a gratitude journal or listing things you are grateful for on a daily basis is highly recommended by many personal coaches. With the celebration of Thanksgiving here in the US just a few days away, this feels like the perfect time to up-level our gratitude practice.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about harnessing the mind-body connection to help you reach your goals and to create more positivity in your life. You can also use this connection of mind and body to give more oomph to your gratitude practice. Combined with mindfulness, I have found that a daily gratitude practice is arguably one of the simplest tools you have at your disposal for making positive, long-lasting changes in your life and it is also one of the most powerful.  

Mindfulness & Your Gratitude Practice

The more often you feel gratitude, the more often you get these boosts of inner contentment. So what if you tried intentionally linking up feelings of gratitude to things you use on a daily basis? Doing this first requires you to pay attention (to be mindful of) what brings you joy in the first place. Recognize that these can be small moments of joy - it doesn’t have to be full blown, knock your socks off elation. It can be as simple as finding that you truly enjoy using a specific coffee mug because you like the way your hand fits snugly into the handle. It could be that you have found the perfect pillow. Or perhaps you absolutely love using your new ________ (fill in the blank). You get the idea.

If you have had a gratitude practice for some time, you could look back through your journal or lists to see what pops up frequently. Look for things that appear on the list often. You may decide to start with just two or three things that you use frequently. Once you have these picked out, make an intention that each and every time you use them you will take a moment or two to feel gratitude that you have this and are able to use it. Intend to continue with this practice until you notice that it has developed into a habit. At that point, you may decide to add something else to your daily “feeling grateful for this” list. By making feeling gratitude a habit for these things, you begin to train your brain to feel this healthy happy emotion more often.

Gratitude & Mind-Body Connection

The second thing you can do to take your gratitude practice up a notch, is to recognize the way it feels within your body and to intentionally increase the intensity of that feeling. It is one thing to recognize on a mental level that you are grateful for something, but it is far more effective to feel the emotion of gratitude within the body. Doing this requires that you make your recognition of gratitude moments more than just a passing thought. It requires that you take a couple extra moments to take a deep breath in and allow yourself to feel that feeling of aaahhh… Kind of like the feeling of slipping into a nice warm bath that is the absolute perfect temperature. You just want to allow yourself for a couple of moments to melt into this feeling of contentment.

Now that you know how to make your gratitude practice work even harder for you, what is the first thing you are going to add to your list to feel wonderfully grateful for every time you use it?

 

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