One of the most powerful practices that I have implemented in my life in the last 6 months has been my daily gratitude practice. The mechanism that I use to complete the practice has changed based on what makes it easiest for me to remember to do it but what hasn’t changed is my commitment to identifying a minimum of 3 things to be grateful for each day.
Appreciation of what we have now has been shown to increase happiness. Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study they asked groups of people to write a few sentences each week; one group were ask to focus on things that frustrated or irritated them, the other about things that they were grateful for. After 10 weeks the second group were found to be more optimistic and felt better about their lives.
Some days my gratitude practice is easier than others. It can be hard to find reasons to be grateful when feeling let down by those we love or when under stress. However at these times I remind myself of those who have been through great suffering and still managed to find something to be grateful for. When my best friend’s husband died and left her as a single parent to a 15 month old, I remember her saying to me ‘there are so many people who have it worse than me’ and telling me that she was grateful for certain aspects of her situation; the support of her family and financial stability. I attended a Drugfam conference and listened to a mother talk about he suicide of her son and how she had turned her pain into purpose, making her life about helping others to heal and feeling grateful for her ability to do so and for the 19 wonderful years of her son’s life.
On a podcast I heard Dr. Jeremy Goldberg (@longdistancelovebombs) say that when he’s having a bad day he thinks of the smallest thing that he can be grateful for which will give him an instant lift.
Each day I take a few moments to think of and write down the things that I am grateful for this daily practice keeps me in an abundance mindset and makes me feel positive about all of the wonderful things in my life and gives me the energy to strive for more.