Did you know that gratitude is the gift you give yourself?
During this season of Thanksgiving, the word gratitude gets mentioned a lot. Martha Beck, renowned life coach and proponent of gratitude journals, says “gratitude is the emotional sweet spot from which we can create our best lives.” The more frequently we express gratitude, the better we feel.
I’m a proponent of expressing gratitude. After 9/11, my husband and I started a nightly dinner time ritual. We lit a candle every night before we ate and each shared something we were grateful for that day. That simple act of sharing our gratitude had a powerful impact in the moment and over the years.
I’ve read a lot about gratitude and learned that when you express gratitude you’re literally changing the molecular structure of your brain. And when you do, you become more peaceful, less reactive and genuinely happier.
During this season of thankfulness, why not take the time to cultivate a regular gratitude practice?
Here are some scientifically proven ways to create your own gratitude practice:
Write a thank-you note or letter. Give it to the person you are thanking. Writing down your feelings of thanks will almost certainly improve your relationship with that person. Plus, it gives you a moment to reflect on the importance that person plays in your life. Also, write one to yourself. Self-love is just as important.
Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to remind yourself what you’re thankful for in the moment and look back to remember all the wonderful people and things in your life.
Use prayer as a form of gratitude. Author and medical intuitive, Caroline Myss likes this prayer: “I am grateful for all I have and for all I do not have. If I am grateful for having been spared of suffering, give me the grace to help those who are suffering. Amen.”
Practice meditation. Think good thoughts. Incorporate feelings of gratitude into your meditation practice by creating a mantra of what you’re grateful for. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says: “I encourage myself to remember that being grateful doesn’t mean I have to keep a gratitude jar that counts my blessings. It just means I can reset my thoughts, just like in meditation, and choose instead to gently settle my attention on something positive.”
Self-talk is so important. You choose what you want to focus on. The more you look for things to be grateful for the better you’ll feel. If you really want to feel uplifted, check out this beautiful and touching short film by Louie Schwartzberg “How to Cultivate Gratitude from the Gift of Each Day.”