Happy Holidays everyone! Today I will share with you some practical ideas on how to weave the practice of gratitude into your life and make it a habit. This is the 5th and final post in this series on gratitude.
Sharing The Wealth
This practice has played a big part in my story up until now and I hope that if you already practice gratitude I offered a new perspective for you to consider. If you haven’t approached the practice, I hope this series inspired you to try it.
Brief Summary of the Series
Here is a roundup of what was covered thus far.
In the 1st post here I shared some research on gratitude and how it benefits our bodies, mind, relationships and even pocketbooks. In the 2nd post here I shared how the daily practice of gratitude led to a breakthrough experience, while in the midst of sadness/pain. In the 3rd post here I elaborated on the importance of owning our sadness/pain and how through the practice of gratitude we can be propelled into greater clarity and a richer inner life.
In the 4th post here I shared how on the onset it may seem that gratitude in tough times creates a pollyannish state of denial. I went into how in fact the practice can be used to go to the heart of what is bothering you, creating inner resilience in the face of challenge overall.
I Work Out 🙂
In looking back on that momentous crossroads with my friend as a teen, I realize that up until that point, gratitude had been a muscle that I was flexing for some time before it sparked that climactic turning point. What I know now is that practicing the feeling of gratitude in small ways, regularly, makes it more likely to remember to practice it in the big impromptu moments that are high stress and of high consequence.
Getting Cued Up
So how do we begin to weave this practice into our lives and make it a habit? Below is a list of 15 ways. You might notice that all the things are physically involved. You can try to simply think about things to be grateful for every day, yet I find that in the long run, to successfully anchor the practice in your daily schedule, physical cues are key.
An Anchor in The Storm
Let’s be real here, we all have busy days that seem to snowball together, where un planned things happen and there’s an urgency in getting important things done. At these times it’s easy to have the fury of the moment crowd out (in your eyes) the value of this practice. When IN this “busy and overwhelmed vortex” you will definitely not be feeling the need for it. This is where the value of physical cues serves us.
Physical cues override that whole mental trip and sync us up physiologically to in essence, go there.
Habituate Positive Emotions
When we’re whirling in busyiness’ we don’t whine about brushing our teeth, it’s a no-brainer non negotiable, we go on automatic and just do it. It is part of our identity to walk around with a clean mouth stressed or not. We can adopt into our identity, to the same extent, being generally grateful, appreciative people. Just as Pavlov proved to the world how regular physical cues create biological responses in us, we can do the same to cue and habituate new, positive states of emotion.
With that said, on with the list!
15 Ways to Make Gratitude a Habit
1.Journaling for 5-20 minutes before bed/upon waking up depending on how much time you can allot. I found that when I started at 5 mins, I began to feel so good from it that I didn’t want to stop and it slowly morphed to 20 minutes
2.Carry a small pocket notebook for only this purpose and write when you have 5 spare minutes i.e. a slow computer is starting up, waiting for your turn in the bank drive through or doctors office
3.Have a beaded bracelet and use it like a mala to go through gratitudes. Any will do really, whatever fits comfortably between your fingers. The idea is that when you have a few minutes you take off the bracelet and run the beads through your fingers thinking about one unique reason to feel grateful for each bead your fingers touch. I added two picks below just to give you an idea, choose what style fits with you of course.
4.Decide on a basic, daily task to be your cue like these :Washing your hands, opening doors, before and after eating, taking a shower, brushing teeth, reaching stop lights while driving, with every sip of a liquid or before every text. You can cue your mind and train it to associate these small tasks with this emotion. In time you won’t need to even think about things that incite the feeling, you’ll just do the task and the feeling will come automatically because you would have hardwired it.
5.Carry with you throughout your day a silent vibrating beeper like this one. Many yoga teachers use this to keep them on time with each movement they perform. You can program it to vibrate every 30 minutes. That vibration can be your cue to think a grateful thought. I’m trying this for 30 days myself.
6.Just as many of you put things into your phone calendar to remind you of doctor appointments and meetings etc., have a daily reminder at different times in the day to be grateful. Your reminder can be worded “In this moment I appreciate…”. When your alert goes off you will look at the phone in that moment and read those words to cue you.
7.Create one thank you card a week. Paper cards are more valuable today in this digital world than ever before. People really appreciate receiving something as thoughtful as this that they can touch with their hands.
9.Have a screensaver on your phone to remind you to feel grateful so every time you pick it up you remember.
10.Wear jewelry that symbolizes that feeling of gratitude for example this necklace pendant or ring. These are just examples, of course, choose something that speaks to you. Throughout the day touch them and think of something to be grateful for.
11.Have a symbol of gratitude on your water bottle, coffee mug or on the dashboard of your car for the same purposes. Here is a gratitude sticker as an example.
12.Have a gratitude buddy and agree to call each other at a certain time to only have grateful ranting.
13.Have a soundtrack that you play perhaps in your commute home that you dedicate as your gratitude session track and commit to spending some time inciting that feeling during your commute
14.Make a gratitude collage and hang it up where you will see it every morning for example in your bathroom while brushing your teeth or wherever you sit to drink your morning coffee
15.Make one small gratitude collage for a different loved one per week where you post visually all the things you are appreciate about them. Mail it to them as a postcard
One of the most influential men of our time also had a practice of gratitude. He had this to say…
A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.
100 Times a Day!
When I read this quote I took it quite literally and figured that perhaps Einstein was awake for 17 hours a day, let’s say from 5am to 10pm doing his magic. In doing the math it means he incited the feeling of gratitude in himself every 10 minutes. I tried to personally do this myself and haven’t been able to reach 100 for one whole day.
I am going to commit to doing number 5 for the whole month of January and will update you on how it goes.
If you found this post helpful don’t forget to share, like or comment below. Thanks for stopping by and making me a part of your day!