Gratitude practice is the simple shift you need to remove your mask of unhappiness.
Have you heard about a man who was never happy? There was a man who decided that he will be happy when he will pass his exam with good grades. When he got good grades, he decided that he will be happy when he gets a good job. When he got a good job, he decided that he will be happy only when he gets a wife. When he got married, he was still not happy. He decided he will be happy when he had kids. Till the time he was on death bed, years passed and he was not happy. I first read this story in A Clinician’s Guide To Teaching Mindfulness.
It seems to me that this is an extreme case of a person’s attitude towards goals and wants.
But even if you are not as extreme, you go all your lives moving from one goal to another in search of happiness.
The secret to happiness and joy is that it is present with you all the time. It is upto you to feel it or not.
You mask your joy and happiness with all the emotions that arise from your thoughts and actions.
You are unable to access it because you have added layers of anxiety, unhappiness, anger, guilt, shame, desperation on the naked layer of joy.
Gratitude Practice Research
Here are some links to research on practice of gratitude:
- Indiana University Professors Article on their study
- Clinicle Psychology Review – Article by Alex M Wood, Jeffrey J Froh and Adam W. A Geraghty
- The Role of Gratitude in Wellbeing in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients
- The Role of Gratitude in Financial Distress and Marital Quality
- Gratitude Influences Sleep Through The Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitions
Gratitude Benefits – Why Practice Gratitude
As pointed by the research above, practicing gratitude has several benefits. Here are some of them as listed:
1. Gratitude helps us bounce back from negative emotions quickly and is a tool of emotional strength
2. Gratitude helps us show an optimistic outlook on life.
3. Gratitude helps improve sleep. When worries keep us at night, practicing gratitude can ease our worries and help lower our stress levels
4. Gratitude helps boost confidence and self-esteem. When you focus on your achievements and blessings, you are more likely to feel good and confident about yourself and how your life is shaping up. When you focus on these positives, it is natural for you to feel excited and enthusiastic about the actions you are taking in your life to move forward in your goals. This gives your confidence a much-needed boost.
5. Gratitude enhances mindfulness and helps you live and savor the present moment more.
6. Gratitude helps develop your patience and resilience. When you are thankful for your learning moments and life journeys, you get a better understanding of how life works and as a result, you are more likely to grow in your life and meet success
Myths About Gratitude Practice
When it comes to gratitude practice, everyone has some misunderstandings and myths.
Here are some of them:
1. Gratitude Practice is Cheesy
As research shows, a gratitude practice is not cheesy. There is a basis of research for you to take this practice seriously. There are some mature ways to express gratitude in your daily life listed in this article below.
2. Gratitude Practice means that you have to be religious
Expressing a sense of gratitude in daily life has nothing to do with what religion you follow. Anyone from any religion or spiritual background is welcome to practice gratitude in their life.
3. Gratitude Practice is for happy people only
It is great to practice gratitude when you are happy but that does not mean it is reserved for those people only. When you intentionally practice gratitude
4. Gratitude Practice is not for ambitious people or you cannot desire more
There is a belief that if you are grateful then that means you will be complacent about your life and that you will never want to grow. This myth about gratitude is absolutely not true. If you are grateful for what you have, you can open your minds and create opportunities for you to attain more. Gratitude Practice puts you in a calmer state of mind and that helps you take better decisions you need for your growth.
5. Gratitude Practice is not possible in all circumstances
It is argued that in some circumstances it is hard to find gratitude. Even though it may feel and seem difficult, a gratitude practice is an intentional practice that helps you look for things in a different perspective that will change your attitude towards different circumstances.
My Personal Shifts With Daily Gratitude Practice
Since I have started practicing gratitude daily and intentionally, my life perspective on everything has changed.
My personal gratitude practice has given me a foundation of optimism that has helped me become a highly self-motivated individual.
I have faced a lot of setbacks. My path of growth has been extremely slow and painful. But with the help of gratitude, I have moved past the slow path and started connecting myself with opportunities to grow as an entrepreneur.
I create mindfulness and sound healing circles online and in Atlanta (locally). When I started, I had to cancel programs 3 times or more because nobody signed up. On the fourth time, 3 people showed up. In that event, one person threw all their “I know everything and this is how you do things” agenda on me. 2 of the other ones are my repeat clients who show up monthly for my sound bath sessions. The one who knew everything never showed up again.
As a human being, these are exciting yet stressful milestones, but slowly I saw growth. I am thankful for all the lessons and all different types of people I have met in my life. I have learned from every experience and the feedback I have received, I have applied and grown.
If I got stressed out and only complained about all the negative events, my anxiety would be on the rise and I would have given up on my local offerings.
Being in gratitude without judgment of experiences is by far the best strategy to personal growth.
In 2006, I met with a car accident. I was in pain. I even was out of work for 3 months and this was from a job that I had just started 2 weeks in. The event taught me a lot about dependence, independence, expectations in close relations, misunderstandings and a lot more. For some time, I carried a lot of grudges around this incident. But as I started opening up towards showing gratitude towards everything that happened during this year, I started changing as a person inside out. If I was upset about this event all my life, I would not have been here in all these changes that I have created in my life.
You might have read several personal development books, you might know intellectually a lot of things but you also have to apply what you learned.
Gratitude is the easiest application of all!
Simple Gratitude Exercises – How To Practice Gratitude Every Day
Here are a few exercises that you can practice daily in order to express gratitude and I promise they will take you no time.
- Gratitude While Driving In Heavy Traffic – This is an exercise I recommended my husband who has to drive in the wild Atlanta traffic. Just think of three things during the drive that you are feeling thankful for and acknowledge them out loud while in the car.
- Create A Gratitude Journal – or use one of the ones listed below and make them personal and fill them out. (*Amazon Affiliate Links)
- Gratitude Meditation – Meditate with gratitude in your heart. Follow this script. Find a place to sit down. Close your eyes. Find a posture that feels relaxed and awake. Focus on your breath. Drop your shoulders. Relax. Simply notice what you are experiencing in this moment. Maybe you are experiencing a gentle breeze across your face or the comfort of your chair. Maybe you are experiencing some difficulties around what happened earlier today. Whatever it is, just notice how you feel inside the body. Now slowly shift your awareness towards someone in your life who has supported you in some way. It could be your Uber Driver, your mechanic, your teacher, your guru, your parent, your child. Whoever it is, bring them into your awareness. Allow yourself to feel how you have benefited from the gift of this being. Allow yourself to feel appreciation and gratitude. Now bring awareness to the fact that you are breathing each moment. Knowing that if you are breathing there is more right than wrong. Each breath is a gift of life. Allow yourself to notice how precious each breath is. Now slowly open your eyes.
- Write A Letter Or A Message – Write a letter expressing heartfelt gratitude to someone in your life that has given you perspective on life, helped you or been a blessing.
- Create a Gratitude Jar – Write down on pieces of paper what you are grateful for and keep adding them to the jar daily. You can even do this as a family. At the end of the year, you can open the jar and read everything that happened as a blessing throughout the year for you and celebrate the joy
Gratitude Practice – Quotes
Here are 10 gratitude quotes to help you get external motivation for a gratitude practice
- Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it – William Arthur Ward
- Gratitude makes sense for our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow
- The more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because – for sure- what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life – you create more of it. – Oprah Winfrey
- My socks may not match but my feet are always warm – Maureen Mccullough
- The cheerful heart has a continual feast – Proverbs 15:15
- Be present in all things and thankful for all things – Maya Angelou
- It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up – Eckhart Tolle
- The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga – Yogi Bhajan
- Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life
- Gratitude opens the door to …the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the Universe. You open the door through gratitude
Gratitude Practice – Journal Prompts
Here are 10 gratitude journal prompts for your convenience to help you get started:
- What are you most thankful for today?
- Who has had the most impact in your life till date? Write a thank-you note or letter addressed to them.
- What are some things that you are grateful for yourself?
- Find something that did not happen as the way you wanted to in the past. Think about this event and write down what lessons were you thankful for because of this unwanted event.
- Think of a time when you were really happy in your life. What were the decisions and people that led you to this time? Journal the gratitude you feel towards the people and the decisions and choices that brought you to this happy moment.
- Which family member are you most thankful for in your life? Write about them and what makes them so special?
- Think about one person who annoys you to the core. Now think about 3 positive qualities they have and write down why you are grateful for these
- List down 10 things in life that you have taken for granted. Write down your heartfelt appreciation about these things
- List all your big accomplishments. Write down why they have helped you become a better person today
- List 5 things that help your life become easier. Share heartfelt gratitude towards these things and towards the ease.
Gratitude Practice is a tiny shift in your daily routine but the results you experience are mighty. Share with me in comments if you have started your own gratitude practice and what shifts it brought for you. I would love to read your results.