Do you incorporate gratitude practices into your life? Do you already have an understanding of that means? We all generally know that it is important to express thanks – or at least to acknowledge the things we are grateful for in our lives. But without practice, gratitude can feel like an abstract concept, performative, or cheesy. It isn’t a difficult thing, but it does take active listening and feeling, and participating in the experiences around us in a slightly modified way.
There is a wide range of benefits to gratitude practices, including strengthening your immune system and improving sleep patterns, feeling optimistic and experiencing more joy and pleasure, being more helpful and generous, and feeling less lonely and isolated.
Here’s some ways to get started:
Notice the Good Things Around You
Appreciate them, savor them, and really pay attention to the good things! What wonderful, rich, or delicate flavors are in your coffee, tea, or meal? Notice the decomposing leaves in the rainy fall air. The smell of fresh soil being created to give new life to everything around you. Notice how soft your sweater is, and how comfortable your clothing is.
Pay attention to your feet – look at all the work they put in to keep you upright, balanced, and moving forward in life. Notice how dextrous your hands are. Good for grasping, communicating, climbing, feeling, reaching, scratching. Such an incredible array of tools in things that we were given.
Observe Your “Thank You’s”
Observe your habits, and watch when you say “thank you.” Do you give thanks often? How much of a habit is it? Are you actually thankful, or is it a robotic response? Is it an afterthought, so you aren’t perceived as rude?
How do you feel when you express thanks? Do a quick scan of your body and notice where you are. Are you already moving on to the next thing, or thinking about your next interaction? We are trained to say “thank you” because it’s the polite thing to do. But we are not trained to actually BE in thanks, and in gratitude.
The next time an opportunity arises for you to say “thanks,” just take a moment. Take a breath. Why are you thankful? What is it that gives you feelings of gratitude (even past whatever gesture or action was extended to you)? Reach more fully into the feeling of WHY you’re saying “thank you,” and THEN give thanks. This will pull it away from being an instinctual response, and toward being mindful, aware, and living in gratitude.
Express Your Gratitude!
Whether you’re expressing thankfulness to yourself, or someone else, be sure you are staying active in this gratitude practice. Write down reasons that you are grateful, to lock these into muscle memory, as well.
Gratitude Practices Journaling
Do daily writing in a journal to remind yourself of the good things in your life. Even on shitty days, pick out the silver linings and lessons. Recall moments of thankfulness associated with day-to-day events, people in your life, or your own personal experiences. Even writing down 3 things per day will help lock in this practice.
Remember the Muck
We all experience mucky times. The no fun, no good, bad times. It’s okay to experience that. Now… reflect on that in contrast to how your life is now. Instant gratitude
Share Your Gratitude
Expressing gratitude strengthens relationships, so the next time your loved one does something that you are grateful for, be sure to let them know!
Practice Getting In Your Body
We are living in a spirit-operated 3D meatsack. This wobbly sack of bones and meat and blood somehow houses our vast consciousness. We are able to do incredible things with our body. And our senses… Who even thought of such a creation! And for those of us with extrasensory talents… Good grief. We are all literal miracles walking around like it’s no big deal.
Get in touch with your senses. Pick just one and dive deep. The variety of textures and colors we can perceive. The abundance of smells and flavors. That inner knowing that guides you in life. Get in touch and appreciate those gifts
Actions and Words
Do the dang thing. Go through the motions of saying “thank you” often. Write thank you letters. Write good reviews for businesses. Smile often and fiercely (not that limp Seattle smile, please). Living in gratitude – even just mechanically – actually triggers more gratitude. Research has shown that smiling – even a fake smile (you can even simulate this by shoving a pencil lengthwise at the corners your mouth to create a giant “joker smile”) will actually improve your mood by releasing dopamine.
Think about the relationships you have with your parents, your siblings, your friends and loved ones, your coworkers, kids, and your partners. Ask yourself a few questions to find things to be grateful for:
- “What have I received from ____________?” This can be abstract (advice, a listening ear, loving support) or physical (a car, a book, a place to stay when things were hard).
- “What have I given to ____________?”
Create visual reminders for your gratitude! Whether that looks like notes for yourself about what you’re grateful for, or sticky notes that remind you to be grateful, visual cues help us stay present. One way to keep this interesting is taking 3 sticky notes, and moving them around the house on a daily basis. Stick them to something new, and allow yourself to take in and appreciate those things, and what they do for you.
Get Dedicated to Your Gratitude Practices
By making a commitment to gratitude practices, statistically you are actually more likely to go through with it. So set your intention to Live in Gratitude, write it down, and post it somewhere that you’ll see it every day (or move it around, if you’re the type of person for which things that are stationary disappear into the background).
Reposition Your Reality
When you are talking about your gratitude, speak from a place of understanding what good other things or people did for you, and why you appreciate them. Speaking from a framework where you are giving deference and gratitude will bring more of that same type of energy.
In contrast, speaking from a position how good you are or what you got tends to have a more self-centered, narcissistic, selfish, entitled, and/or privileged energy around it. For example, “I got _______ because someone did _______,” has a more self-centered energy than “_________ did this thing for me which caused _________.” It gives them the energetic responsibility and gratitude they deserve.
Get Zen with It
You can bring gratitude practices into your meditations. Meditate on the things which bring you positive feelings, and understanding of how they came to you. Take time to be thankful for all that you have in your life. If guided meditations are helpful, there are hundreds of free gratitude meditations available on youtube.
Recognize the Little Things
Life is a collection of little things and little experiences. One small gesture can change your entire day. Start taking small actions that might improve someone else’s day, and start to notice and appreciate the small things even more. There is no little thing.
You can focus your meditation practice directly on gratitude by chanting with the following three mantras:
Om Kleem Shum Shukraya Namah
Translation: Om and salutations to the ruler of enjoyment, entertainment, and pleasure. May I be blessed with love, delight, gratitude, contentment, and fulfillment.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Translation: O radiant jewel in the lotus of my heart, please shine brightly. May my heart have the strength to feel compassion and kindness for all sentient beings.
Translation: May I reside in deep gratitude and appreciation for all beings and all things in this universe.
Crystal Allies are Here to Help!
You can create a crystal grid, altar, meditate with, or even just carry your chosen “touchstone” crystals that are focused on your gratitude. While meditating, hold your crystal over your heart. Otherwise, use your intention and create a connection to your crystal, your heart, and go about your day knowing that your intentions have been put into action.
- Amethyst – Inner peace and transformation. Self-knowledge, keeping you focused on what’s important. Positive attitude.
- Chrysoprase – Healing, especially of the heart. Encourages communication, balance, and better choices. Ushers in an appreciation and gratitude, and a sense of deep peace.
- Citrine – Positivity & manifestation. Attracts wealth and abundance. Helps you feel great about the things you have in your life.
- Green Aventurine – Abundance. Positive, invigorating, wealth-attractant.
- Blue Kyanite – Encourages creative, positive energy. Truth, love, and loyalty. Helps you appreciate the gifts of love and strength of connections you have.
- Rhodochrosite – Powerful Heart Chakra stone. It’s all about peace, love, joy, and healing. Self-love and kindness, positivity and creativity. Improves self-worth and personal sense of gratitude.
- Thulite – Heart healing and a huge deliverer of lessons in compassion. Understanding of both sides of the story, and having compassion and forgiveness.
- Dioptase – Powerful heart healer opens the heart chakra to allow love to flow more easily. Frees stuck trauma and emotions to be processed so that one can live in the moment and appreciate the present.
- Rose Quartz – All about love in every form. Cultivates a thankful heart.
- Tiger’s Eye – Promotes confidence in self, protection, and balance. Activates the solar plexus Chakra, helping to maintain an attitude of gratitude.