3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

How many Thanksgiving dinners have I attended where the family members were made to state something they were grateful for? Enough to know we all could use a little help to experience gratitude more often in our lives so that we aren’t grasping at straws.

The answers always range from surface level- an xbox, to practical– job, to sincere– grandma still being with us. Not inherently bad answers, but would those be our answers if we were inclined toward identifying things that we are thankful for? What if we didn’t have to think of things that we use often or that people in worse situations don’t have? What if we truly felt gratitude and what we shared uplifted others?

I think actually feeling gratitude would have a significant impact on the family’s time together. Why? Because according to the Law of Attraction whatever you send out is what you attract. Feeling gratitude for the things you have should theoretically bring more of what causes those feelings. So if everyone, or most people at dinner were actually feeling gratitude and benevolence toward each other, how much less likely is it for Cousin Dee to pop off after getting one too many ‘Draw Fours’ played on her like she normally does?

Why is Gratitude Important?

The bible frequently mentions giving thanks. Success icons on YouTube talk about spending time feeling gratitude daily. Your mom always used to tell you you were ungrateful like it was a bad thing. So basically gratitude is important.

The first bible verse that comes to mind for me is Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The instruction I take from this is verse is that product of praying with thanksgiving is peace. I’ll take some of that.

The big and famous Tony Robbins says he begins his day with three solid minutes of gratitude. During his morning “priming” routine, he spends three of his ten minutes feeling gratitude for a few things; one minute each. In an article from Business Insider, Tony explains, “The reason I picked gratitude is because when you’re grateful you can’t be angry. And when you’re grateful you can’t be fearful.”

Happierhuman.com looked at 40 research studies about gratitude. Their blog post breaks down the major benefits of practicing gratitude, but they summed up their finding as “gratitude triggers positive feedback loops.”

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s clear gratitude carries significance. Have you heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy?” It means that feeling inadequate or wanting what others have is a direct adversary to being happy. Logically, gratitude should be the bringer of joy. Who doesn’t want more joy?

To help us all have something better to say in a few weeks I have outlined a few ways we can change our thinking for the better.

Gratitude Exercises

Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a notebook dedicated for recording experiences or feelings of gratitude. You can buy one with prompts to help you find things for which you are grateful. You can make one, or you can just write in a notebook. A best practice would be journaling everyday to create a habit of feeling gratitude.

Thank You Notes

It seems that only a few of us were actually raised right, I mean taught to send Thank You cards. I have one friend

that regularly sends Thank You cards in response to gifts, and it is a special thing about her. Receiving a thank you note makes me feel she values my friendship.

For this month of gratitude, I am going to take the time to send four Thank You cards to people I appreciate. What impact do you think it would have for you to receive recognition for your kindness or a note of appreciation for who you are a few times a year? And what if you regularly did that for other people?

Gratitude App

I found an app to help me feel organic feelings. I’ll admit I probably overuse my phone, but I’m grateful it exists… You see what I did there.

hiMoment is an application that prompts you to identify a couple moments to be grateful for each day. What I like about this app is that I can utilize my photos from the day. I have an infant so you know I have at least a dozen to choose from.

The app also sends you notifications to remind you to pick what you are grateful for as sad as that sounds. Think about the collection you will create after sticking with it for even a week.

If this app doesn’t get you excited, just type “gratitude” into your app store and pick from one of the other dozens of options including gratitude journals.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s one thing to understand that you benefit from an object, person or experience on an intellectual level. I think feeling genuine gratitude will impact who we are. We don’t become negative people without practice. It takes work to undo that practice and replace it with positive habits.

I hope that spending a few weeks focusing on what we should be treasuring in our lives will impact how much joy we have for the holidays. We can always be worse off and we can always have better. There is value in the exact moment we are in. I hope this exercise helps both of us see that.

Please comment with your feelings about gratitude or habits that keep you appreciative!

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