A couple of years ago I started getting serious about practicing gratitude. I don’t remember the specifics around what prompted me to create this habit but whatever the reason, I started taking time on a regular basis to remember what it was that I loved about my life.
Memories of people, places, experiences, personal breakthroughs, possessions I loved—basically anything in my life that was meaningful became the fuel for creating a regular practice where I take time to ponder what’s going well for me. Engaging with what’s going well not only trains my mind to focus on the good, it actually raises my emotional state into one of positivity and joy.
Let’s face it. There’s a lot going on today that feels crazy or overwhelming if we focus on it too much. (And I’m not sure about you, but the decisions I make when I’m afraid or angry aren’t nearly as wise as those made from a place of peace or joy.)
Enter gratitude. 🙏
Did you know that you can’t be simultaneously fearful and grateful at the same time? (The same is true for anger.)
If you’re struggling with negative emotions, this quick Gratitude exercise can quickly help you shift your emotional state (in as little as 3-5 minutes.)
Gratitude Practice 101:
- Close your eyes.
- Place your hand(s) on your heart.
- Think of a moment from your life that you can be truly grateful for (could be a big or little moment—doesn’t matter.)
- Really step into the memory of that moment (re-live the emotions and bring back the beauty of that experience in as much detail as you can muster in your imagination.)
- Repeat a second time with a person you’re grateful for and a third time with an object or possession you’re grateful for.
- If you’re facing a decision where you need clarity or answers, ask yourself what you should do next (while you’re in the place of thankfulness in your heart.) Usually, you’ll find the answer will be right there.
The most important component of this exercise is feeling the emotions of what that experience, person, or ‘thing’ means to you. You want to do this on a heart level, not simply a head level.
The power is in connecting to emotions of joy, thankfulness, love, beauty, etc. that you associate with the memories you thought of.
I do some version of this exercise daily and it really does work, especially the part about finding answers when you’re unsure what to do next.
I’m generally more joyful, content, and aware of what’s going well at any given moment. Optimism and hope feel like constant companions, even in the midst of chaos around me. And when I’m aware of what’s good in life, opportunities and ‘ways forward’ become more clear.
Believe me, it’s not that my life doesn’t have anything hard to navigate, either (because it does, just like everyone else.) I’m just more prone to see solutions when I’m focusing on the best and not the worst around me.
If you already do this, then I’m preaching to the choir; but if it’s new for you, I’d love to challenge you to try it out, even for 7 days.
Give it a go. After all, what can it hurt if it’s only 5 minutes out of your day.
Plus, it just might change your life.
P.S. Speaking of changing your life, I’d love to invite you to my FREE Facebook Habit challenge called Change your habits, change your life—2020 Habit Challenge. We’re focusing on a new healthy lifestyle habit every month throughout the end of the year. August’s habit is drinking water. Come join us here!