“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie
So often, you get busy with life, busy with chasing after the things you want, after the things that are somewhere out there, that you forget to enjoy the present moment, forget to be happy. You hear it all the time: I will be happy when I will get this and that, when I will get there, when I will do this and that…
When those things do happen, it is right on to planning the next thing and the next thing and forgetting to enjoy life’s achievements and accomplishments, the things you longed for. By doing so you also forget to enjoy what you already have, what’s right there in front of you. Today, don’t let that be you.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.
Gratitude is not reserved solely for momentous occasions: Of course, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie. Research shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which you are thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
When you choose to keep moving forward, being grateful to what worked, for what you have and what you learned, the struggles ahead seem less insurmountable, and the challenges less paralyzing. Gratitude can help you feel more positive and support your moving forward through challenges
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
A gratitude practice provides perspective and allows your focus to shift from your inner conversation and reflect on what matters most.
In being grateful for small things you take for granted, your mind is conditioned to focus on the good. And after doing this time and time and time again, it can become a part of who you are.
As wonderful as this may sound, beginning and maintaining gratitude practice can be challenging and motivation wanes quickly and may often lose out to activities that provide more entertainment value.
Keys To Your Gratitude Practice
Being excited about the benefits of gratitude can be extremely motivating as it provides that little extra kick you may need to begin making changes. However, if your excitement about sleeping better because of our newfound gratitude keeps you from anticipating how tired you might be tomorrow night when attempting to journal, you are more likely to fumble and lose momentum. When looking to achieve a goal, using the technique of mental contrasting (being optimistic about the benefits of a new habit while also being realistic about how difficult building the habit may be) will lead you to exert more effort. Recognize and plan for the obstacles that may get in the way. For instance, if you tend to be exhausted at night, accept that it might not be the best time to focus for a few extra minutes and schedule your gratitude in the morning instead.
Keep It Fresh
The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you feel grateful for on a daily basis. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way you perceive situations by adjusting what you choose to focus on. While you might always be thankful for your great family, simply writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week does little to keep your brain on alert for fresh grateful moments. Get specific by writing “Today my husband helped me with dinner when he knew I was really stressed after a long day” or "My sister invited me over for to visit so we could catch up in pe4rson." Challenge and stretch yourself beyond the great stuff right in front of you. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice. Make a game out of noticing new things each day.
Make It Fun
A deep desire from within to persist on a task is known as intrinsic motivation. One of the biggest determinants of this desire is autonomy, the ability to do things the way you want and on your own terms. With this is mind, avoid perceived limitations: if journaling is feeling stale, try out new and creative ways to track your grateful moments. These could include:
- Telling someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
- Noticing the beauty in nature each day.
- Including an act of kindness in your life each day.
- Avoiding negative media and movies with destructive content.
- Cook meals with love, think of the people you will feed.
- Volunteer for organizations that help others.
- Avoiding gossip or speaking badly about anyone.
- Spending quality time with your loved ones.
- Committing to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
- Meditating on giving thanks for all your good fortune.
- Posting quotes and images that remind you to be grateful around your house.
- Making a gratitude collage, cut out pictures of all the things that you are grateful for.
Your relationships with others are the greatest determinant of our happiness. It then makes sense to think of other people as you begin to build and grow your gratitude. It has been suggested that focusing your gratitude on people for whom you are thankful rather than circumstances or material items will enhance the benefits you experience. You could even consider including others directly into your expression of gratitude. This could include
- Writing a letter of thanks to someone who had an impact on you whom you may never have appropriately thanked.
- Making gratitude a part of family life, share it with each other during meal time.
- Sharing the benefits of gratitude with family and friends.
- Sharing gratitude each day by posting a tweet, Facebook post or Pinterest.
You could also share the day’s grateful moments around the dinner table. The conversations that follow may give you even more reasons to give thanks.
Realize that now, at this moment you have more than enough. It is perfectly acceptable to have dreams and to aspire to grow, to learn, to evolve and to achieve great things. However, it is equally as important to celebrate yourself, to celebrate your accomplishments, to celebrate the present moment and to celebrate your life. With gratitude comes happiness and with happiness comes more gratitude.
With much gratitude to you for being part of our community, we wish you Happy Holidays and many blessings for all that is to come!
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com