Steps to Take Gratitude with You Year-Round
by Julie Potiker
Science continues to confirm that being grateful can make us happier, and that “developing an 'attitude of gratitude' is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life,” Julie notes. Now Stanford researchers have found a heightened sense of appreciation is among “silver linings” Americans are experiencing in the pandemic.
As we prepare to give thanks on Thanksgiving, “Let the spirit of the season serve as the catalyst to starting your own gratitude practice,” Julie suggests. Here are some of her tips to get started:
Keep a gratitude journal. Visit your favorite bookstore or craft store and pick out a journal that inspires you. Keep it by your bedside or toothbrush for easy access. Make yourself write longhand instead of typing on a device, as the physical act of writing has more benefits for your neural health than typing on a keyboard. If you must type, that’s okay. It’s better to type than to skip the practice!
Notice times when you feel joy during your day. Take in that good mental state for a couple of breaths, allowing it to turn into a neural trait. In other words, mindfully focusing on joy helps condition your brain to feel more joy in the future. What fires together wires together!
Answer these two questions in your journal before you go to bed at night: What did you enjoy today? What are you grateful for today? Your answers can be anything at all.
“There’s no ‘right way’ to do these exercises,” Julie notes. “You can jot down one-word answers, write whole paragraphs, or even draw a picture. What you write about feeling grateful for doesn’t have to be monumental. It could be as simple as feeling gratitude for resting your head on a comfy pillow, the sound of rain against your window, or the perfect cup of tea. And of course, it can be bigger things too, like a vacation, a raise, a unique adventure, or time with someone you love. If it happens to you and you feel joy from experiencing it, jot it down and revel in those feelings all over again.
“With something this simple and effective at your fingertips, there’s no reason not to start improving your experience of life right here, today.”
Julie Potiker is a mindfulness expert with extensive teacher training in a variety of tools and methods, including Mindful Self-Compassion. Through her Mindful Methods for Life program offerings and her book — “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos” — Julie helps others bring more peace and wellness into their lives. For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.