Kati’s Fit Kit
Gratitude is Good for You!
As human beings, we are blessed with the ability to exert some control over our thoughts. The things we think about and give our focus to can have a tremendous effect on our mind, body and spirit. Specifically, cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” is an extremely powerful tool that has been shown to:
- Promote feelings of positivity and well-being
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve your relationships with others and the world around you
- Help you handle challenging situations with more ease
- Boost your immune system
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is a great time to start up a practice of developing gratitude, or re-energize your current practice.
Here are a few ways to work gratitude in to your everyday life:
- Keep a journal – every night spend five or ten minutes writing down a few things that you are thankful for that day. Or start your day that way. I personally find three things I’m grateful for as the first thing I do every morning.
- Make a gratitude jar – write down at least one thing you are grateful for everyday on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. You can look at the papers if you are feeling low or need inspiration.
- Share gratitude with others – you can spend a couple of minutes at dinner each night sharing something you are thankful for with your family. Or reach out to a friend to let him/her know you are grateful for their friendship. Or post something on social media.
- Take a photo each day of something you are grateful for – you could make an album at the end of the year and have 365 pictures of gratitude!
You will get more out of your gratitude practice if you remember to be grateful not just for big things like a promotion at work, a big vacation, or a new car. Look for small things to appreciate everyday: a hug from a friend, a gorgeous sunset, a meal that came together perfectly, a story that made you laugh. Being as specific as you can will also make your practice more powerful. For example, instead of just being thankful for a roof over my head, a few days I took note of how grateful I am to be able to stand in my yard underneath an orange tree, enjoying sunny, warm weather in November!
All this sounds pretty simple to do when you are feeling good and things are going well, but developing a gratitude practice is extremely important and helpful for when things are tough. Next time you get sick or are dealing with an injury, can you find gratitude for the opportunity to slow down and really listen to your body? If plans you have made fall through or things don’t go the way you’d hoped, can you find gratitude for the chance to look at things differently and maybe appreciate a perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise had? If you find yourself falling into the “compare and despair” trap of thinking other people have it better than you, can you find gratitude for the opportunities offered to others, and be grateful for the good things you have now and the good things yet to come?
Life will always be full of challenges, but the awesome benefits associated with gratitude are worth cultivating even when times get hard. Just like any practice, it probably won’t be perfect, and it may not always be easy. If you fall out of practice, just pick up again as soon as you can, and you will start to see the benefits almost immediately.
Strength, love and gratitude,
PS – Want to kick start or reinvigorate your gratitude practice and help our local community? Join me at Breakthrough next Saturday 11/16 at 11:30am for a Free Workshop – Breathe, Relax and Be Grateful. All are welcome! Please bring non-perishable food to support the West Valley Food Pantry. Learn more here!