Can a daily gratitude practice help increase your happiness?
I personally was a skeptic that practicing gratitude could help improve my happiness. I am here to report that for this skeptic, it did indeed help me retrain my brain and see more good in my days, which made me happier.
How to practice gratitude daily and why you should try it
It is easy to take simple pleasures for granted, especially in today's heated environment with politics, covid, and other hot topics. It is too easy for our hearts to be filled with hatred instead of love.
A daily gratitude practice helps you:
Reflect on the things and people that add to the joy in your life
Re-train your brain when negative self-talk sets in, you have the power to switch the direction to all that is going well
Practicing gratitude is strongly connected with helping people increase their positive emotions, improving health and happiness.
What are some examples of gratitude?
In the beginning, it can seem hard to find things to be grateful for. Keep trying. I promise it will get more comfortable, especially since you will find yourself looking for a moment that you are thankful for. Here is a list to help get you started and some of my favorites on days when there does not seem to be a lot to be grateful for.
The ability to breathe
Clean drinking water
Breathable air (so grateful for this, especially during a California fire season)
Having a roof over my head
Having food to feed my family
Being able to go outside safely
5 easy ways to add a daily gratitude practice
First thing in the morning. Before you even open your eyes, list one to three things you are grateful for (my favorite).
Keep a gratitude journal and add to it every day.
Together as a family, go around the dinner table and share what you are thankful for (my kids’ favorite).
While you are taking a shower or brushing your teeth, take a moment to reflect on what good things happened that day.
As you eat a meal, mindfully notice the smell and taste and be grateful for the food nourishing your body.
This month, we have so much around us that brings us sadness and frustration. It is too easy to get lost in anger and hate. But, beautiful friend, don't lose hope and don't lose your faith that we still live in a beautiful world.
How I added a gratitude practice in my day
I am thankful for many things; I am grateful for the simple pleasures in life, but this was not always the case.
There was a time when my alarm would ring, and the first thing that would run through my mind was, "….Ugh, I did not get enough sleep” or, “Why do the kids get up so early" and, "….I have so much to do today."
Before my feet hit the floor, hell, before I even opened my mind the negative self-talk was filling me up.
I was so tired of feeling like my day had a negative feeling from the start.
As I lay in bed with my eyes still closed, I practice finding things that I am grateful for. In the beginning, I found that I was grateful for the same thing every morning. Guess what? It is ok because it starts me off better.
As I lay asleep, the first thing I think about is, "Gosh, I am so lucky to have such a comfortable bed and sheets."
That's it! That one phrase stops the line of negative thoughts right in its place.
How can you start your morning? What can be your 1-3 automatic lines that you use to tune out or turn off the negative thoughts?
In the beginning, I liked to use the same line(s) every morning. Why? Well, my pre-coffee brain is too tired to think deeply about all the great things I can be thankful for. Now I enjoy really digging deep and thinking of the things I am grateful for.
You can pick something you are grateful for the night before. That way when you wake up and the negative thoughts start to come in, you can pull out your gratitude line and repeat it to yourself over and over.
Like anything else new, practice takes time. You will have mornings when you forget and the negative self-talk comes back, which is ok. THAT IS NORMAL. It is ok to stop mid-negative sentence, go back and start over.
Stay curious, be brave, and love who you are.
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