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Gratitude- Choosing to be Grateful

Nov 4, 2022

“Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.” – Rumi

What are you grateful for in your life, and how do you express that gratitude?

 Gratitude, by definition, is the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful, and consciously practicing gratitude can be a game changer if you let it. In cultivating an attitude of gratitude, we can focus more on the good in life and less on the bad or what we have compared to what we lack.


Why Gratitude?

The simple act of being grateful has been shown to positively affect our mental health and improve our relationships with others. In an article written by Psychology Today, they note that:

Over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practicing gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating, which is a hallmark of depression.

Other studies have found other benefits to include “strengthening your immune system and improving sleep patterns, feeling optimistic and experiencing more joy and pleasure, being more helpful and generous, and feeling less lonely and isolated .”(Mindful.org).

When we live our lives from a place of gratitude, we gain an appreciation for life and the people in it. This gratitude allows us to have healthier relationships and helps us better deal with life’s challenges. Even in the most difficult times (though it may not feel like it), we can always find something to be grateful for.

 

Ways to express gratitude

 There are many ways to express or cultivate gratitude. Find what works best for you and start putting the practice into action. It may feel odd at first, and you may feel a bit uncomfortable (this is normal and to be expected), but the more you practice being grateful, the stronger your mental state becomes, and soon gratitude will start to feel like second nature.

 

Choose to be grateful

Every day choose to be grateful. Start each day by giving thanks. Even before you get out of bed in the morning, choose to be grateful no matter what. Remember that life is a series of lessons and blessings, but regardless of what life may throw at you, you can still choose gratitude. This is not to say that daily gratitude will always be easy, but it’s still a choice.

An article in PositivePsychology.com explains:

It is important to note that gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your life but about being thankful for everything in your life. There are things in your life that might initially seem bad but, upon further reflection, give you an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of gratitude is recognizing these blessings in all things. (Joaquín Selva, 2017)

 The more you can bring attention to the things that you are grateful for, the more you’ll notice the feelings of gratitude.

 

Express your gratitude towards others

“Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding”. – Alice Walker

 

Let those you care about know how much you appreciate and care for them. -A thank you can go a long way. Such a simple gesture nurtures our relationship with others and helps us to be happier overall.

 

Keep a gratitude journal

Get into the habit of writing down 1-3 things you are grateful for daily. Start by reflecting on what’s going right in your life or simply what you are grateful for and write it down. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself by focusing only on the big things; the small things matter. It may be as simple as not sleeping through the alarm or completing a task earlier than expected. It doesn’t matter; celebrate the small wins. The small wins eventually become big wins.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ― Vincent Van Gogh

As you become more comfortable in your journaling, connect your emotions to the things you are grateful for -explore the sensations that bubble up. Bask in the beautiful feeling that comes from being grateful.

 When you struggle to feel grateful, look over past entries for inspiration.

Pray

Faith believers may opt to go to prayer to express gratitude. Use this time to outwardly reflect on the blessings in your life and give thanks. Take stock of what you have and all the ways that have been made in your life. When you look back over your life, you will see that you have so much to be thankful for and that you are living one of your past prayers in that moment.

Meditate

While prayer is an outward practice, meditation requires us to go inward. In gratitude meditation, the focus is on expressing gratitude for the things in your life. In mindfulness meditation, we slow down racing thoughts and release negativity to regain a sense of calmness.

When setting the intention for your meditation, choose things like gratitude and appreciation.

 

Here is a short, guided gratitude meditation to help get your practice started.

 

What is gratitude?

It is the state of being grateful, thankful or appreciative.

So, while holding that in mind, come to a comfortable seat, or you can position your body in a reclined setting.

I encourage you to get comfortable, using whatever props you feel like you need. Even a blanket to stay warm.

And begin to come into the present moment by connecting to the rhythm and pattern of your breath.  

Just noticing the inhales and the exhales.

Let your breath be soft and relaxed.

If you’re laying down, allow your body to give weigh to gravity and if you’re seated upright, just allow yourself to notice where your body meets up with your seat as you relax your shoulders.

Inhale… and exhale

Inhale… and exhale

Inhale… and exhale   

Now bring to mind something or someone that you appreciate.

And let the sense of gratitude, the feeling of gratitude well up within you.

Feel it in your heart center and let it spread throughout your torso and into the rest of your body.

Hold the image of the something or someone that you are grateful for in your mind’s eye.

Allow a smile even to come across your face, as you think of it or them.

Now send that warm feeling of gratitude out into the space that you are in.

Let it become bigger and grander.

Fill the room.

Now send that warm feeling of gratitude out past the room you are in and out into the world all around you.

Allow your attention to come back to your breath.

Begin to notice the state of your physical body and mind and the space that you’re in.

Take note of the sense of gratitude and how it lingers in the mind and in your body.

I invite you to take this feeling of gratitude with you into the rest of your day

Take a moment and write down or journal about at least one thing that you are grateful for today.

See what you notice in the day and the days to come, when you hold that sense of gratitude within you.

Thanks for joining me.

Namaste…

 

Sources:

Gratitude. (2022). Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude

How to Practice Gratitude. Mindful. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/an-introduction-to-mindful-gratitude/

Selva, Joaquín. (2017). Gratitude Meditation: A Simple but Powerful Intervention. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-meditation-happiness/

 

 

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