Gratitude is crucial and can be practiced daily
As I highlighted in my free guide “Why Practice Gratitude” benefits of practicing gratitude daily improves our relationships, health, sleep, and productivity. Research studies at Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia have also shown gratitude journaling and daily practice has the same benefits listed above. For more on the science behind gratitude visit this article by Harvard Health Publishing.
“Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, and the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude” – Deepak Chopra
What about practicing gratitude for shitty situations?
How many times have you looked at the sunset, a beautiful scene or anything aesthetically pleasing and felt gratitude? Easy, we all have. Feeling gratitude for wonderful things is easier than the shitty situations, which is harder to actually feel and experience. Gratitude doesn’t discount the shitty stuff that we come across in life or condone it, but rather it teaches us that we can grow and become stronger from bad situations.
For example, if you break up with your boyfriend and are angry with him for lying to you, it’s hard to find gratitude in the situation. And the idea of practicing gratitude at this moment might feel impossible as you are so fueled with emotion, and are not thinking clearly. You see, the only control you have in shitty situations is how you react.
But this is a choice and if you choose gratitude when the dust settles you are going to feel much more free and in control of your next step towards a better relationship. Later on, you can be grateful for the lessons you learned in the past relationship and take the feedback as a learning experience.
Practicing gratitude helps us open up to perspectives on the situation and actually become more in tune with our bigger purpose, as well as bring people together in bad situations. Waiting for a delayed plane to take off from the airport is often a random place to encounter connections with fellow passengers whom you wouldn’t speak to most likely otherwise. When we are caught off guard with a challenge, it’s a test of our character and how we deal with it.
Choosing gratitude over frustration or anger is such a powerful action that can lead to more positive outcomes in turn. There will always be un-fortune in the world, but how will we actually appreciate the wonderful moments if we have nothing contrasting it? For me, the benefits of practicing gratitude helps me find perspective and keeps my head focused on my goals.
What about practicing gratitude in our busy lives?
Again, it’s far easier for us to acknowledge the things in life that are going great for us. But in such a busy modern world we can become too fixated on the destination, that all the things on the way to that become meaningless. To reap the benefits of practicing gratitude we can look at it as a daily practice.
Many highly accomplished individuals and athletes are so driven towards their goal or vision for their life, often they feel lack of connection or impatience until they get “there”. I’ll be happy when “______”, or I’ll be happy when “______” is done. But until they reach that goal they can make life harder for themselves along the way and it can be taxing for the relationships around them.
I’m not saying having goals or working hard is not important, but the tunnel vision we can get can hinder us from actually living and feeling gratitude in our daily life. We miss out on connections, perspectives and even an overall feeling of being alive in the moment.
With gratitude comes connection to where we are right now and helps us become more present in our daily life. We all want to connect. We strive for it without knowing it. Letting go of the expectation of what gratitude or connection should look like and just accepting it for what it is right now is the key.
Here are 3 Steps towards finding gratitude:
- Aware: Let your awareness of the present take over your opinion of what should be happening. All of your senses are aware of where you are and the conditions.
- Accept: Accept what is happening good or bad. No judgment of what needs to happen next.
- Acknowledge: Recognize and begin to understand how this situation will help you further down your path of life no matter what it is.
Here are a few examples
You can start with awareness in your environment right now. Then accept what is happening.
Positive example: I’m aware of the beautiful beach close to my house. I am accepting where I am at this moment enjoying this beautiful beach. I acknowledge that this is a gift and I will continue to share memories with friends and family here.
Negative example: I’m aware of this stressful situation. I am accepting that this situation is happening and I can now make my next choice with a clear head. I acknowledge that I have learned many lessons in this situation and I am grateful for being ok and alive.
You don’t have to sugarcoat a shitty situation, but you can reframe your understanding and experience of it with how you react with gratitude.
Gratitude is such a powerful expression and allows us to feel connected with the world we walk on. Every breath we take is a gift as well as how we move our bodies and experience life! We can appreciate where we are and have a larger perspective of our role in this world as we cultivate gratitude daily.
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