There’s little else more powerful in our mental health toolkit than a regular gratitude practice. It can really positively change how you see the world. But, as simple as it sounds, it can seem ineffective and challenging to maintain. And how best do we practice this simple habit?
Here’s the 3 ways I’ve been able to start and maintain an impactful gratitude habit over the past few years:
Step 1: Journal
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’ll have heard on the grapevine that journalling has now become cool, grown-up, and mental-health saving. And gratitude and journalling go hand-in-hand.
I recommend starting your day by writing down the three things you’re most grateful for. This will frame up a more positive outlook and better day for it. Then, on a night before you go to sleep, write down three of the best things that happened that day.
The notebook doesn’t have to be fancy, but if you want to splurge on something, try the one I use from Moleskine. And keep your journal next to your bed for easy habit-building.
Step 2 – Feel more
If you yoga with me, you’ll hear me say this a lot. Feeling our bodies and responding accordingly is a big part of our movement practice, and it’s the same with our gratitude practice, too. If you’re not really feeling it and rushing your gratitudes down (maybe you really need to pee) then it’s just not going to have the same efficacy.
Find the things you’re grateful for and let them permeate. Do a little dance. Feel gratitude, don’t do gratitude.
Step 3 – Take it with you
Aside from it being a great morning and evening practice, it’s also a great practice to take with you into the adventures of your day. When you find yourself with your favourite snacks, or watching your favourite TV show (or both); when you notice you’re in a really funny moment with your kids; when you happen upon a deer on one of your walks: pause a second. This is the time to bring your gratitude practice to mind. No need to make a note (although you absolutely can), but just get mindful about the great things happening around you right now (and see Step 2 above).
Gratitude as a lifestyle
Making gratitude a habit really can prime ourselves to see more of it. After starting a gratitude journal in 2019, it’s now habit for me to go about my day taking mental notes of the things that go really well. And it’s as simple as just noticing.
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