The concept of gratitude, like mindfulness, has become widely adopted and practiced in the Western world. However, despite its popularity, the daily practice of gratitude is not a widely adopted habit within our ‘quick-fix, instant gratification’ society. When we think about daily practices of self-love, self-care, and healing, we tend to question how long it will take for us to feel happiness, joy, love, less anxiety, less stress, or even less depression.
Because negative emotions, or even confronting our emotions and feelings, head on brings us a sense of discomfort, we tend to find quick and easy ways to relieve that discomfort, in order to put ourselves back into the state of comfortability that we are used to. This can look like negative coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, substance abuse, indulging in internet pornography, or anything that can guarantee a quick relief to our situation.
Practicing gratitude is more than just saying “thank you.” Gratitude practice begins with paying attention, or self-awareness, by noticing all the good things you would normally take for granted in your life.
As you flex and work your gratitude muscle every day, it gets stronger. And as it develops, so does the realization and experience that it’s possible to have a choice about how we respond to the challenges and hurdles that life presents us, without getting sucked into a complaining mindset o feeling anxious about what we don’t have.
As a result, gratitude will impact and transform your life in so many ways:
- Contentment becomes stronger than dissatisfaction
- Peace becomes stronger than frustration
- Appreciation becomes stronger than criticism and complaining
- And resilience to life’s challenges increases
What If I Can’t Think Of Anything To Be Grateful For?
This is a common question that people tend to ask who are new to gratitude practice and are feeling some uncertainty about whether it’s for them or not.
It’s true that there are some days and some circumstances in life when it can feel a little hard to tap into that reservoir of gratitude than others, especially when hardship, illness or even death may be present. But as you’ll discover when you begin practicing gratitude, harder doesn’t necessarily mean impossible, and there will always be things that you’ll be able to identify and create a sense of appreciation for each day.
It can be as simple as
- “Today I’m grateful that I’m alive”,
- Today I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge when so many in the world are going without”.
The intention with gratitude is not to put pressure on yourself to positive-think your way out of painful experiences, or to deny their existence. Nor is it to create long lists that don’t have any meaning for you and feel false or insincere.
The aim is simply to direct your focus away from dwelling on what’s not going well in life, whilst still acknowledging the existence of the pain.
After a month of practice, you may notice that you are becoming more aware of your surroundings and have a greater level of sensitivity to observe those moments that touched you and made you feel appreciative. Things like:
- The kindness and warmth of the barista that made your coffee
- The stranger that looked you in the eye and smiled at you in the street
- The joy you felt when you walked past a sweet smelling tree and inhaled it’s beautiful scent
One of the easiest ways to commit to any new habit is to connect in with a group of like-minded people for support and encouragement until it becomes a natural part of life. The effect of gratitude i cumulative and the benefits ultimately change your perception of reality over time so it’s important to have patience and persistence with your gratitude practice.
“The more you practice gratitude, the more you see how much there is to be grateful for, and your life becomes an ongoing celebration of joy and happiness”
-Don Miguel Ruiz-
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