Did you catch that? What I titled this post?
Do you know why I chose to use the word PRACTICING?
Because gratitude is not something that just happens.
See, we tend to think that grateful people are just naturally grateful because they have so much to be grateful for.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Gratitude takes practice and persistence. It’s not something that happens. It takes DOING.
I bet you never thought of gratitude as a physical practice, huh?
But it totally is! Practicing gratitude means making a conscious choice each day to focus on the good things in your life.
And here’s the thing, it’s not always EASY to focus on the good things.
Sometimes there seem to be no good things. Nothing to be grateful for.
Sometimes things are bad, ugly, hard. And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be LIFE if we didn’t have hard times.
But the difference between people who practice gratitude and those who don’t, is that those people who DO — are the ones who CHOOSE gratitude. They actively search for things in their lives to be grateful for.
Life could be crumbling around you. Bills piling up. Relationships failing. Health issues.
But when you can find just a few things to cling to that are GOOD in healthy in your life, it starts to overtake the negative.
There is never anyone who’s life is in such a horrible state that they have NOTHING to be grateful for. Only people who are so deep in despair that their own mind can’t connect with the things that are happening GOOD for them.
I may be rambling…so let me give you a personal example.
I was a stay at home mom, single, and just starting out on my own. I had no real experience of being on my own, let alone with two little kids to care for too. I only had the skills I had learned the few years before. I was living in a place I could hardly afford. My bills were stacking up. I was losing weight because I was stressed. It was hard to find things to be grateful for in that time in my life. Yes, I was making it, but it was a struggle. And so, I slipped further and further into this self-sabotaging attitude of defeat.
I realized that gratitude doesn’t just come to me. I have to seek it. I read a few books, which at the time I thought were hippy dippy. These books kept mentioning that if you aren’t expressing gratitude for what you have now, you can’t ever have more. So I Google’d how to express more gratitude.
Look, you know you’re low when you have to GOOGLE how to express gratitude! Especially as a girl who grew up in the church. I had ALWAYS been a positive person. And here I was Google-ing how to get that back!
So I came across an Oprah video that encouraged me to start a gratitude journal.
Two words for you…
I challenged myself to just think of 3 things every day that I could be grateful for. Some days it was the same 3 things as the last 5 days prior, but I was still grateful for them, so I wrote them. As the days went on, I started incorporating more thing. It wasn’t that new things were coming into my life to be grateful for, it was that I was forced to notice the little things that truly make up the BIG gratitude of life.
That was over 2 years ago, and I still write down 3 things everyday (some days more…some days i want to quit before I start…but I still find 3 things). It’s an ACTION step. It’s a physical action toward practicing gratitude. When I start my day with 3 thoughts, it opens my mind to see the things to be grateful for all throughout my life.
For some people, you may need to start even MORE simply. The key is to START. There are lots of little ways to start. The key is just to start. I know I said that before, but it’s so true. If you even just start with ONE simple thing per day, it will explode into more and more and more gratitude, and you will experience the most incredible freedom and happiness, no matter what is going on in your life at the present moment.
I came across these 5 tips the other day…
And while #1 is to express gratitude, I think that the other steps can actually help prepare your mindset to practice that gratitude, that you need to express, in order for you to tick off everything on that list.
If times are tough, start with 5 deep breaths before your feet hit the floor in the morning. That will help clear your mind to smile for no reason at all. 😀
If you’re like me, you tend to wake up happy as a lark, but then you remember everything that you were worried about or upset about the day before…boom….good mood denied.
Or is it?
When I consciously make myself take some deep breaths, smile for NO reason (before the icky thoughts can get in 😉 ), and then when/if those icky thoughts try to creep in…I can really choose not to focus on any negative thoughts from the past. When I can overcome those negative thoughts, I can choose gratitude and express it (my gratitude journal). THEN, once my mind is right, I set my intentions for the day. When your mind is right and you’re grateful, you intentions will be pure. When your intentions are pure, life will give you everything you deserve.
Try those 5 steps starting tomorrow morning when you wake up. (Maybe in a different order that works for you). When it comes to expressing gratitude, never say to yourself “oh I have nothing to be grateful for”…just get a pen and a journal and write 3 things. Even if it takes you all day. Find 3 things to be grateful for. The smallest things are still things.
I encourage you to really do this for 30 days. I believe you will develop incredible gratitude, pure intentions, and a happier life…because when you express gratitude for the things you have, you prepare yourself for the things to come!