By: Brittany Berlin
How to practice gratitude daily:
We’ve all heard it. We should be more grateful in life. And we should! But sometimes it’s hard. Like really hard. Especially if you’ve been through a lot or are currently facing mental and physical struggles.
Gratitude is by no means a way to undermine what you’re going through, or a way to bury the feelings that you don’t want to feel. In fact, it can be a way for you to feel validated.
When we lead with gratitude and appreciation, life becomes more enjoyable to live, even on the not so great days (we all have them, they aren’t going away! But they will feel better). Starting to actually be thankful is another thing though, and takes practice and time and consistent effort.
Here is a short list of tips that can help you get started with seeing the upside of down:
Start with the basics.
When we are first starting our gratitude practice, it can be hard to figure out what you’re grateful for.
You say your family, your apartment or house, food, etc. Okay, basics done. But truth be told, you can be grateful about anything: the clear blue sky, even the rain clouds because they’re watering the grass and trees; that you checked off even one thing on your to-do list today; that you can afford to buy food; that your grandma bought you that sweater for your birthday; that this coffee is really dang good right now; that you’re able to read this article on a smartphone or a laptop!
The list could go on. But it might feel like work at first, and that’s okay. Start small, with only 5 things maybe. Really feel into the gratitude behind those 5 things. Then do something new the next day. Or expand the list to be 7 items or 10!
You don’t need to be listing everything you’re grateful for all at once, especially if you’re currently struggling in general. It’s hard to flip that switch and can almost make you feel resentful. That’s okay. Those feelings are valid.
But don’t lose hope that you can see the good in things. Start small, and work your way up. It’s like flexing any other muscle in your body. You have to start somewhere!
Write it down.
Writing down what you’re grateful for can be extraordinarily powerful. It’s one of the reasons why Thomas Jefferson’s job was so important! Writing down what we’re grateful for cements it in our minds. It’s almost like a declaration to our subconscious mind that this is how we’re thinking from now on.
And the more you write, the more those subconscious thoughts will start to morph. Like I said earlier, start with a small list, and really feel into it. It’s more important that you feel what you’re grateful for rather than how much you’re grateful for. Quality over quantity!
Flip the switch.
Being grateful is, well, great, and all, but how do you remember to be grateful throughout the day? Good question! Living from a place of gratitude means that you see the good in every scenario, not the negative. This is called flipping the switch.
It’s as simple as looking at the glass as half empty or half full. Now, say that you knocked that glass over and there is water everywhere- what a mess! Flipping the switch would mean thinking well, it’s not a big deal, but even more so, hey at least I had water to fill the glass! Just those tiny changes in one’s perspective can lead to big lifestyle shifts.
It’s sometimes hard to remember it in the moment, especially if you’re new to your gratitude practice. This is why I always recommend also starting a practice of mindfulness, which means meditation is a good idea 😉 I know, I know, everyone says to meditate, and they all proclaim the amazing stress-reducing benefits of it or how you have to “clear your mind” (spoiler alert: meditation is NOT about clearing your mind. Let me say it one more time for the people in the back, meditation is *NOT* about clearing your mind).
To be mindful means that we are aware in the present moment. We are not in the past and we are not in the future. We are not operating by our subconscious mind, but rather, we’re consciously focused on our surroundings. What this means is that we don’t act on autopilot; instead, we are an active participant in how our reality is constructed. Meditation is the key to this. When we practice meditation, we start to remove ourselves from the construct of the ego and of fear, and we realign with the core of who we are. At this core, we’re able to observe the positive, negative, and neutral thoughts that float through our minds 64,000+ times a day. We become aware of how and why we act the way we do when we live our lives on autopilot, and we’re thus able to choose a different way of thinking.
For example: say you’re checking out in the grocery store, and the person behind you is extraordinarily rude and shoving everyone to get ahead. Instead of the old you, operating from your fear and ego subconscious, snapping at the person behind you to stop being a jerk, you choose mindfulness and gratitude. In that instance, you’re able to see that what this person is doing is not a comment on you, and in fact, maybe they’re having a not so great day and they’re unable to reign in their emotions at this point in time. How are you feeling right now? Check in with your body. Your heart is beating, your lungs are pumping air, and hey, you’re next in line to check out! That’s great! You are fine and don’t need to be wrapped up in their energy. In that moment, a bad situation in which your day could have also been ruined was switched so that you’re actually leaving that moment feeling better than you started!
Funny how that works 😉
Use a gratitude rock.
Using a gratitude rock is a great way of tangibly reminding you to be grateful. This technique actually comes from Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling book, The Magic. Essentially, you designate a rock or stone (or crystal or any other object that’s handheld really!) to be your gratitude rock. Every night, before your head hits the pillow, you reach for your gratitude rock and start recounting the beautiful things that happened in your day, even if it’s just that you got up today. Finding gratitude, even for the smallest parts of our days, helps us to reprogram our minds to think more positively and expect good.
If anything, it will just make you live a happier life, but I truly believe that like the saying, “you are what you eat,” you attract what you vibrate at. So it feels a lot better to be vibrating at the consciousness of love and gratitude rather than fear, anger, and grief (although those are necessary emotions to move through and should not be ignored and buried).
Go on a rampage of gratitude.
This one is one of my favorites. It’s essentially when you just start listing everything you’re thankful for out loud, and one thing builds off of the next. I use this technique if I’m deep within a moment of frustration and need something to remind me of the good in life, because while there is a lot of negative to go around, there’s also a lot of positive (and I’ll even argue that there’s more positive than negative in the world).
Start with one thing and then go on from there. If you’re in the car stuck in traffic, start with how grateful you are that you have transportation to get from wherever you are to wherever you’re going. You’re grateful that the brakes are functioning and that you can play your favorite music or podcast on the radio. You’re grateful that you have time to get to where you need to go, and if you happen to be running behind schedule, you’re thankful that it’s not the end of the world if you’re late. You’re grateful to be doing something really enjoyable later, like cook dinner with a loved one, or watch your favorite movie. You’re grateful that at least it’s sunny and you can roll down the window for fresh air.
Sort of like that! Now, it doesn’t have to be about your current situation, your monologue of gratitude could really be about anything! Afterwards, you’ll feel a bit lighter. And if you don’t, keep going 😉
Share what you’re grateful for with others.
Whether that’s at the dinner table or after someone helped you out, or just in the middle of a conversation! When we share what we’re grateful for, we then ignite the gratitude in another person, and we can build off of that gratitude. Energy is contagious, so the more you share what you’re grateful for, the more someone else will, and then back again to you. Suddenly, you both feel so good!
Sharing your appreciation also helps to build stronger relationships. Telling a loved one you appreciate that they did your laundry for you the other day, or that a friend thought to bring you a card when you weren’t feeling well lets the other person know that their actions were seen and heard. And then they’ll be more likely to do it again, and you will too!
Expressing gratitude before a meal can also be a great way to bring a family together. Much like how some families pray before dinner, each person can go around the table recalling one thing they’re grateful for that happened today. It’s an easy way to not only get you to think more positively, but also help your children and loved ones flip the switch as well.