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Monday Musing - Gratitude...Let's Practice!

We’ve learned what gratitude is and how it works in our brain, as well as the varied benefits of practicing gratitude. But just how do you practice gratitude? Here are some ideas that I’ve had success with:

Writing down things you’re grateful for. Be specific! Here are some prompts to get you thinking:

o What went unexpectedly well at work/home this week?

o What opportunities have I had to serve others?

o What do I appreciate about the view from my window?

o What do I enjoy about the food I eat?

o Who is a source of support for me?

o How does my partner/spouse/friend/child make my life easier?

o What is something bad that could’ve happened but didn’t?

o Who’s been the most positive influence in my life?

Think about the relationships you have with people in your life. When you think of a specific person, ask yourself:

o What have I received from ___?

o What have I given to ___?

o What difficulties have I caused?

Take it a step further and share with that person how you appreciate them…and be specific. Like, “I really appreciated you picking me up when my car broke down. It was such a relief that I could count on you on a pretty rotten day, especially knowing how busy you were that day. Thank you!”

Listen to a meditation on gratitude.

o The key to meditation is to go into it without expectations.

o Your mind will wander and think because that’s what it is made to do. Have a “touch point” or “home base” like your breath or the feel of your feet on the floor to come back to when you experience this.

Use your body…quite a miraculous machine and gift! Get in touch with your senses to appreciate the miracle of your life and humanity.

Put visual reminders around your home and workplace that will remind you to be grateful. A word on a post-it on a mirror, a picture or sculpture, a candle…whatever will prompt you to stop and “count your blessings.”

Choose your words carefully. Grateful people tend to use words like gift, blessings, fortunate, abundance and similar. Focusing on your verbiage is tied to your practice of gratitude.

Write a thank you note when you receive a gift. An old-fashioned “snail mail” card speaks volumes about how much you appreciate someone’s thoughtfulness. But don’t underestimate an email or text. Taking time to show your gratitude through a written note will be meaningful to the receiver.

Challenge yourself to show gratitude to people throughout your day…the clerk at the grocery store for her smile, the bagger for being careful with the bread, your boss for letting you leave early for an appointment with your mom, your partner for helping with dinner without being asked.

Remember your practicing, your doing, gratitude will have far-reaching positive effects that you will never know. Just trust that your gratitude practice is helping you in so many ways AND making the world a better place.

Have you tried any of these gratitude practices? How did it go for you? Do you have any other way you practice gratitude?

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