Thanksgiving is upon us, which provides us with a nice reminder to practice gratitude. I invite you to use Thanksgiving as a catalyst for starting a daily gratitude practice. If you’re wondering how to practice gratitude, read on my friend!
Why Practice Gratitude
There are countless benefits to a gratitude practice.
Psychologist Robert Emmons has been researching gratitude and its effects for years, and he’s found that people who practice gratitude consistently see numerous benefits.
Among those benefits are a stronger immune system, more optimism and happiness, feeling less lonely, and being more forgiving. I don’t know about you, but those sound like awesome things that I want in my life!
How To Practice Gratitude
Hopefully you’re convinced of the power of gratitude and you’re reading to start your own gratitude practice. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Related: Morning Yoga Gratitude Practice
Sweat the Small Stuff
You don’t have to save gratitude for big moments or achievements. Part of making gratitude a daily habit is appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there’s nothing too small to be grateful for.
It can be as simple as appreciating that you have clean water to drink, or clothes to put on your body. These may seem like little things, but they play a significant role in enriching your life. Take the time to appreciate all the small things because in the end they add up to big things.
Mindfulness is awareness. It’s living your life on purpose, rather than on autopilot. Moving through your life with more mindfulness can help to increase your level of gratitude.
Let’s take your morning cup of coffee, for example. To drink your coffee with mindfulness is to take the time to close your eyes and savor the warmth and flavor. To tap in to the smell, the feel, and taste of your coffee. This is the perfect time to practice gratitude for that warm cup of deliciousness.
You can do this with every action you take throughout your day – every meal you eat, every step you take, every thing you touch. Practice living with awareness, and in that awareness, practice gratitude.
Journal it Out
A great way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. How often you write in your gratitude journal is up to you, but once daily is a nice frequency. When I’m feeling really ambitious, I like to journal first thing in the morning, and right before I go to bed.
This doesn’t have to take long – you don’t have to write pages and pages. It can be as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for in that moment.
The key to a gratitude journal is writing in it even (especially) on crappy days. Don’t let yourself skip these days – they are when it matters most! No matter what kind of day you’ve had, dig deep and look for at least one thing you’re thankful for.
Keep it Fresh
Stay alert throughout your day, seeking out new things that you’re thankful for. Journaling is great for this because you don’t want to write the same thing down every single day for weeks.
Knowing that you’ll be writing down what you’re grateful for will keep you on the lookout for those things, which keeps you in an attitude of gratitude all day long!
You also want to stay fresh with how you practice gratitude. Maybe journaling isn’t your thing – that’s totally cool. Try out new and creative ways to keep track of all that you’re grateful for. My fiancé and I used to keep a gratitude jar, where we would throw in little slips of paper with things we’re grateful for. On New Year’s Eve, we would empty the jar and look back on all of our gratitude; or on a particularly tough day, we could go to the jar and pull one out to remind us of our blessings.
Take it To the Mat – But Don’t Leave It There
Set an intention of gratitude during your yoga practice. Feel grateful for each inhale and each exhale. Grateful for your body that is allowing you to move on your mat. Grateful for the practice of yoga that brings you so many benefits. Grateful for the burn you feel after holding Warrior 3 for eight breaths, because it means you’re alive and you can feel!
Allow this sense of gratitude to sink in during your savasana, and then take it out into your day. The practices below will help you to do just that.
I’ll meet you on the mat, my friend.