We often find ourselves getting caught up in the busyness of each day, always planning for tomorrow or next week. With that, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and wrapped up in the days to come, rather than being present and enjoying the current moment. Practicing not just mindfulness, but a certain type of mindfulness can help us to stay grounded and in the present. What exactly are we talking about? Mindfulness and gratitude.
Giving thanks, it’s what this season calls for, but sometimes it can be a challenge to step into a thankful mindset. The fact of the matter is, our ability to practice gratitude is just like muscle memory when it comes to working out. The more you exercise the muscle, the stronger it will become. The same holds true for gratitude, the more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become. In studies performed by Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Berkely, there is evidence that gratitude contributes to improved overall wellbeing.
So, what exactly is gratitude? It’s the practice of focusing on the positives in life rather than the negative. Exercising gratitude can take several different forms…
- Being thankful for the past. Recalling joyful memories and focusing on the positive.
- Living in the present, being thankful for your current situation and the growth you are experiencing.
- Looking to the future and practicing optimism for what is to come. Being thankful for the opportunity to take on the coming day.
No matter your situation, your upbringing, or where you are today, there is always something to be grateful for. Your inspiration and connection can come from within or you can utilize other people, the universe, nature, or a higher power. Regardless of the approach, practicing gratitude can help you to recognize and focus on goodness around you and understand that some of it originates outside of yourself. This connection can help with inner growth, building relationships, dealing with adversity and connecting with those around you on a deeper level. Again, gratitude is like a muscle and must be strengthened over time. Integrating thankfulness into each view of our lives is the perfect framework to build this strength. What might this look like on a daily basis?
Start by carving out time each day. The length of time is up to you; we recommend at least three minutes. Begin by looking within and recognizing negative thoughts that arise. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions but do not dwell in that place for long. Rather, refocus on gratitude to bring your mental state to a positive place. Take time to recall and focus on the positives in your life. This could be as simple as being grateful for a roof over your head, food on your plate and a device to read this article on. During this time, begin keeping a gratitude journal of all the positives that come to mind. This journal will allow you to conceptualize and understand the emotions you feel in a concrete way. Journal the people, things and gifts you are thankful for. Pick a time in your week to truly count your blessings. Select three to five things that you feel grateful for; write them down and keep them in mind as you move through the week. Spend time each day in meditation, being mindful of the things you are grateful for.
This exercise does not always have to be a solo one. Expressing your gratitude to others can bring you joy and others joy when they receive the product of your positivity. This spreading of positivity can often be the most rewarding part! Gratitude helps you to focus on what you have instead of what you lack. Life isn’t always going to be simple or easy, but preparing your mind and mentality for the rough spots will help you to overcome and succeed!
Go ahead, give it a shot and enjoy the many benefits it brings you. We call this living the #NewEarthLife!