The benefits of practicing gratitude are innumerable. It helps release toxic emotions such as frustration, envy, regret and resentment while increasing sensitivity and empathy towards others. Being grateful also improves self-esteem and personal relationships by reducing social comparisons and supporting prosocial behavior. While it's common knowledge that cultivating gratitude is good for us, it's not common practice for many of us.
To fully harness the power of the gratitude practice, I've found a few easy ways to incorporate it into my busy days and I hope you'll find them handy too.
1. Give thanks first thing upon waking up
Every morning before jumping out of bed into the new day, I would pause for a few moments and give thanks for the following. I give thanks for the opportunity to live and experience another new day, for the people in my life whom I love and who love me, for the good night rest I just had, for the work I get to go to later, for the clothes that keep me warm and for the commute money I have so I don't have to walk to work.
2. Give thanks before every meal
As I sit before my meal, I'll always make a quick mental note to feel thankful for the food that fuels my body and ultimately aids in the realization of my dreams. I also give thanks to the meals for nourishing me and for giving me a breather to savor life in the midst of a crazy workday. If I happen to be with company, I'll often give thanks for the friendship, companionship and love I receive from the person I'm with.
3. Give thanks when moving or exercising
We often take for granted our good health and the freedom that comes with it. Whenever I'm walking, running or exercising, I'll take the occasion to give thanks for having the ability to move as I wish and to stay fit. Especially when I'm in the midst of a tough workout routine, I'll repeat in my heart, “I'm so grateful for my hands, my legs and my good health”. This mantra never fails to keep me going till the end of the session.
4. Give thanks during shower or when getting ready for bed
At the end of each day, I like to wrap up the day by doing the following gratitude practice in my shower or when getting ready for bed. I'll start by giving thanks for the day that has been completed, followed by focusing on the parts of the day that went well. I'll then give thanks for having a home to return to, hot shower to keep me feeling fresh and clean and a warm bed to sleep in later.
5. Each time something wonderful happens or when a problem is solved
Whenever something good happens or when I overcome a challenge or avert a crisis, I'll take a moment to express my appreciation to the universe. It's important to acknowledge the victory and the hard work that went into it and to soak in the relief before getting back into the humdrum of our daily lives. More often than not, it isn't that good things don't happen to us, it's just that we don't pay enough attention to them.
How often do you practice gratitude in your everyday life? Which of the above ideas would you use?