Research shows that practising gratitude is great for your mental and physical health. Being thankful helps you be more optimistic, accepting and happy. It can even reduce some of the physical symptoms of illness and reduce our stress levels. In today’s Monday Matters post I’m going to share some easy ways in which you can incorporate a daily focus on being grateful for what you have.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is all about being aware of the good things you have in your life and taking the time to express your appreciation for them. It’s about finding the positives and developing a glass half full attitude. It’s choosing to focus on abundance and how much you have to be grateful for, rather than a feeling of lack or complaint. It’s also about acknowledging the role others play in helping us and being thankful for everything they do.
Gratitude helps us to see what is there instead of what isn’t
Make gratitude meditation part of your daily practise
There are lots of short guided meditations available on YouTube or apps like Calm and Headspace which are really helpful if you are just getting started with meditation – just look for those which focus specifically on gratitude. These are great for developing a relaxed state by focusing on your breathing before inviting you to consider what you are grateful for.
If you are more experienced with meditation, you might create a script that you can follow (this could be written in your bullet journal or typed out and placed next to your bed as a visual reminder). For example:
- Get yourself into a comfortable position where you are relaxed but purposeful
- Sit nice and tall like a mountain but keep your shoulders relaxed
- Close your eyes and breathe
- Take a moment to focus on your breathing
- Now change the focus to your body and think about what you have to be grateful for
- Widen the lens and bring to mind some of the things that you have which make your life easier or bring you great joy
- Now focus on the people in your life and what they offer you. Silently thank them and feel the love spread through your body.
- Think for a moment about how all of this gratitude makes you feel. Enjoy the sensations it creates in your body.
- Finish your practise with some slow and steady breaths before making small movements and when you are ready, open your eyes.
It’s up to you when you want to practise but I find it nice to do first thing in the morning as it sets an intention of being grateful for the rest of the day.
Writing some personalised gratitude affirmations that you repeat each day is another great way of focusing on all of the positive in your life. These can be quite general and things which we often take for granted e.g. I’m grateful for the clean air I have to breathe. I’m grateful that I have a cosy place to call home. I’m grateful for clean running water to drink and bathe in. I’m grateful for all of the delicious food in my fridge. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities that the modern world presents me with. This would make a lovely spread in your bullet journal and you could change your list each season. In the Summer you can add things like ‘I am grateful for sunny days’, ‘I am grateful for cold drinks when I’m feeling hot’ etc. In Winter time, ‘I’m grateful for my cosy pyjamas to keep me warm’, I’m grateful that we have central heating in our house’ etc.
Start a gratitude jar
I haven’t tried this one myself but the idea really appeals. You can choose any jar and you could even decorate it to show its purpose. It should be placed in a prominent place somewhere in your house (this might be a communal area if you want others to contribute to it as well) with paper and pens beside it. Each day (or most days), try to find something you are grateful for, write it on a slip of paper and place it inside. On days when you need a little pick me up, take some of the notes out and read them to remind yourself of what you have. You could also set a date in your diary or bullet journal to empty the jar out to see all of the loveliness inside.
Create a gratitude spread in your bullet journal
A few years ago, I created this wonderful sunshine gratitude spread and added to it during the weeks of December. I found it in one of my old bullet journals and have really enjoyed sitting and reading each of the things I had brought to mind. Many of them still stand today. I recall drawing the semi-circle by hand and adding the rays with a ruler to create the 19 sections. The centre of the sun is shading with coloured pencil and for the rest I used watercolour pencils as I didn’t have my paint sets then. There are so many different things you could focus on such as everyday things like your morning cup of coffee or your car to take you to different places. You can also think about people in your life who help you, for example your doctor who listens carefully and offers you appropriate treatment or your friend who provides a listening ear. You can even consider your own qualities and how they help you in your day-to-day life e.g. lots of patience with your children or your ability to be assertive when speaking to your boss at work.
Use gratitude prompts to evaluate your week
At the end of a busy week, it’s lovely to sit down and do some quiet reflection on all that you have to be grateful for. You can find a huge array of gratitude prompts on Pinterest -I’ve collected lots on this board so feel free to follow it if you need some ideas. You can either use them for journaling or to just focus your mind and thoughts. Here’s a few to get you started:
- What challenge have you overcome and what helped you to face or overcome it?
- What has been your favourite meal or snack over the course of the week?
- Who have you felt inspired by?
- What or who made you smile?
- Think of a gadget in your home that has helped make something quicker or easier this week.
- What is your main highlight?
You can also focus on your past experiences too:
- Name a trip out that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year.
- Think about one of your best memories from childhood.
- Reminisce about one of your favourite holidays (vacations).
- Recall something that you have made that you were really pleased with.
- Think about something you have achieved in your life and consider your personal attributes which made you successful.
- Recall one of the best gifts you have ever received and think about why.
That’s all of my tips for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them and that they are helpful in instilling gratitude in your life. Remember that even if you are having a tough time right now, there’s always something to be grateful for. You might have to dig deep to bring something to mind, but, by taking the time to reflect, you will be able to pick out some positives and this will help to improve your mood.