With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is an excellent reminder of the importance that gratitude can play in our lives. While gratitude is ideal to practice during the holidays, it can also serve as a powerful daily practice. Research shows that a regular practice of gratitude releases the “bliss” hormones oxytocin and dopamine which tells the nervous system that the danger is over and its time to prepare for peace. It allows us to turn down the volume on our self-criticism, to send ourselves compassion at the same time as we set the intention to learn from our mistakes.
Check out these simple steps that alone or together can serve as a great daily practice. Try one or all and experience the goodness a little gratitude can bring.
1. Morning: Wake up and say thank you. Try to let the first thought in the morning be about gratitude and literally thinking silently or saying out loud “thank you.” It doesn’t have to be about anything specific (but it can be), but by just opening your day with this sentiment, you invite gratitude in for the rest of the day.
2. Mid-Day: Practice random acts of kindness. This can be something simple like letting someone in during traffic or the popular act of buying a cup of coffee for the next person in line. Or putting a post it note on your loved one or co-worker’s space letting them know they are loved or valued. Sure you can do the grander gestures, but just check in to make sure you are coming from a simple place of giving and not looking for recognition (seeking validation is a good sign that our good ole’ ego is at work).
3. Evening: Keep a gratitude log. This is a great evening activity to either keep on your phone or simply write down 3 things you are grateful for in your day. I like to think of one thing I am grateful for about a loved one, one thing about someone I may be experiencing a challenging time with, and one thing for myself.
Note: Updated from original post (11/14/14)