When you don’t grow up with much, it’s easy to be thankful for the people, experiences and acts of kindness that come your way. I think (and hope!) I’ve been appreciative of everything and everyone who has helped make my life what it is today.
But even those who live their lives with consistent “thank yous” can lose site of gratitude when the stress of daily life kicks in. Admittedly, I’m one of those people who can be easily thrown off course by the amount of items on my to-do list as well as what I like to call “fear triggers.” These are the big anxiety inducers such as concern for the well-being of loved ones, personal health struggles, finances and fear of death.
With mindfulness becoming more mainstream, I’ve seen an influx of research around the relationship between gratitude and overall health. Many experts claim that actively practicing gratitude can create more optimism which in turn can reduce stress. Additionally, people who are grateful tend to exercise more, take better care of their health and are able to manage stress with more ease.
Because of my ability to go down the rabbit hole in times of stress, I recently started a gratitude practice of my own and have seen a noticeable shift in my thinking to a much more optimistic and peaceful place. While I’m only a study of one, there are a few things that have made implementing this practice relatively easy that I think anyone can try:
- Kick off every morning by saying one thing you’re thankful for. Yep, that’s it–one thing is all it takes to start your day off on a positive note. This morning, I said I was grateful for having a flexible schedule to take my eldest daughter to an eye doctor appointment. While that might sound insignificant to some, it’s a big deal to me to be physically present with my girls every day.
- Find a guided meditation that makes it easy for you to get into the zone even if it’s just once a week. Our culture is constantly looking ahead and meditation is all about bringing us back to the present moment. When we’re truly present, we find joy in each day instead of thinking joy hasn’t arrived yet. Like many people, it’s an incredible challenge for me to quiet my mind so I prefer to use guided meditations. I love the 21-day meditation experiences by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. Not only do I relate to both of them as individuals and experts, but I also connect to their content and messages. When they release a new meditation series, which is usually a few times a year, the experiences are free for a limited period of time before a fee is charged. Make sure to register on their site so you’re given a heads-up the next time a new series comes around!
- Place a gratitude jar in your home and make it a family activity! About a year ago, I came across these cool gratitude jars and thought they were a great way to start teaching my girls about what it means to be thankful and appreciative. Currently, our jar sits in the middle of our dining room table, and we’ll periodically write down what we’re thankful for on slips of paper and drop them in. While Sasha is still too young to make a connection, Natalya has seemed to embrace the idea and I always look forward to what she’ll come up with next. In 2017, my goal is to formalize the process a bit more by making it a weekly activity at the dinner table.
As you think about ways to carve out room for more gratitude in your own life, let me leave you with this final thought: the law of attraction. If like attracts like (and I’m a firm believer that it does), then the more you’re grateful for, the more goodness you attract back into your life.
With love, lipstick and lavender,