Developing a gratitude practice was always one of those things I thought of as “yes, that’s a great idea” but that I never actually did. Not as a regular thing. Not as a way of living my life every single day.
Of course I had learnt to be grateful, and say thank you when someone was being kind, or gave me something, like a birthday present. This was simply a question of having good manners. Being grateful in a ‘socially prescribed’ kind of way.
Gratitude is a nice idea but…..
My relationship with gratitude changed completely last year, when I committed to some seriously big plans for my life and my business. I knew that, if I had any chance of succeeding in the big bold plans I was cooking up, I would need to find a whole new level of energy, inspiration and motivation. You can read all about the key lessons I learnt right here.
One of the biggest practices that became crucial to having tonnes more energy and feeling inspired every single day, was developing a daily gratitude practice.
I had no idea about what having a ‘gratitude practice’ really looked like and what it involved. It took me a while to figure out what it was really all about, and how to capture the magic of a daily gratitude practice, so that it drives your energy in the most incredible way.
Let me share some insights with you, so that you can use a gratitude practice to inspire and motivate you, and take your energy up to the next level.
Exactly what is so fantastic about a gratitude practice?
A regular gratitude practice can have a huge impact on your mood, your energy levels, your sense of joy and how inspired you feel to live your very best life, every single day. That said, don’t just take my word for it.
Researchers have been looking at the benefits of gratitude work for decades, and here are some of the key benefits they report:
- Feel happier on a day to day basis
- Feel more confident
- Healthy sense of self worth and self esteem
- Better able to handle the stress of day to day life
- Go with the flow more, instead of getting bogged down with people or things.
- Lower rates of depression and anxiety
- Sleep better
- Enjoy their relationships far more
- Exercise more
- Cope better with change
- More resilient in the face of life’s challenges
Name me one pill that can do all of that, without side effects and that costs next to nothing!!!!
The power of focus
The biggest benefit of all, in my experience, is that a daily gratitude practice teaches you to FOCUS and NOTICE where life IS working out for you.
Most of us are excellent at noticing the challenges, the difficulties, the struggles of life. We get hung up on the awkward people, the uncooperative colleague, the lack of money, time, space, where we feel ignored, hurt or angered.
In other words, we tend to focus on the things where life is NOT working for us. And what if, instead of giving our time and attention to that stuff, we feed our heart and our minds with the good stuff instead?
🦋What if all you could experience was the pleasure, flow, growth and expansion in your life?
🦋What if you only focused on the stuff that is going really really well?
🦋What if all you saw were the improvements, no matter how big or small, that show you, you are moving in the right direction.
🦋What if you focused only on where you are contributing, making a difference, nurturing your life purpose?
In order to do all of that, we have to learn to actively look for those positive moments, to notice them, to acknowledge them and let them into our hearts.
In my experience, this shift of focus: focus on what you appreciate, what is going well, where you do shine, where you experience joy, this is where the magic really happens.
Before we dive in
So when we talk about having a gratitude practice, what do we really mean?
Is there a right way or an optimal way to do it?
So here are a few things that are good to know before you get started:
- Developing a gratitude practice is deeply personal to you.
- There is no right way or wrong way. The best practice is the one you feel relaxed about doing, the one that you enjoy and that you actually DO!
- It’s what I call ‘quiet’ or ‘inner’ work. It doesn’t look sexy or spectacular from the outside. In fact no one on the outside will even be able to tell that you are doing anything different, until after a few weeks or months they notice that you have that ‘inner glow’, that deep love of life that comes from being deeply grateful for everything you have right now.
- It’s not a result driven practice – there is no ‘goal’ other than showing up to your practice every single day.
- Start with an open mind and an open heart. Try a practice for say a week or two, before you decide if you like it or not. It might take a few attempts to find the one you love and really gel with.
- Like anything new you are learning and trying out, start with simple baby steps and build up from there as you grow in confidence and flow around your chosen practice
How to get started: 3 approaches to try
So there are no right or wrong ways, there is no one method that is best, but you have to start somewhere, so here are some suggestions you can try:
Daily gratitude ‘free write’
This is my current daily practice and it goes like this: I sit down for 5 minutes every morning, first thing, I put my hands on my heart and I ask myself, what am I grateful for right now. IN this very moment.
Then I just start writing. Anything and everything, no matter how big or small. I just let myself write, without judgement, without overthinking it. I fill one page in my A5 gratitude book. At the end, I put my hands back on my heart and say, thank you, thank you, thank you and draw a heart. Then I put it away and don’t read it again. Ever. The next morning I do this all over again.
The 3 things I am grateful for today list
This is a great one for the end of the day and it also makes a great daily practice. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and mentally play the movie of your day, scanning it for anything and everything that gives you joy, that makes you happy, feel satisfied, or that you simply appreciated.
Then choose 3 and write them down as a little list. Just bullet points will do. It’s a two minute job.
Letter from your future self
This one is more of once a week or maybe a once a month practice. It is a letter from your future self to your current self, and it is a letter of gratitude for all that you do, all that you are and all that you stand for in life. It is a letter of deep appreciation for you, your intentions and your qualities that you bring to anything and everything that you do.
This can be quite emotional, as you start to really appreciate yourself for the incredible human being that you really are.
Sit down and write: start with:
Dear (name), I just wanted to write and tell you just how much i have appreciated you this last (week/ month/ year). I’m so grateful for your……Then go for it, describing all the brilliant ways you have shown up, your achievements, your qualities, the difference you made large and small and so on.
It’s a good idea to write without judgement, editing or worrying about spelling or good grammar. The idea is to get the feeling across just how grateful you are for you.
Rocking on gratitude
I hope this has inspired you to think differently about gratitude as a practice and as a way of life. Now that you know just what a difference having regular gratitude practice can make, I hope you feel inspired to start one of your own.
I would love to hear how you get on! Please leave your comments in the box below.