As springtime makes its marks, so does a season representative of new beginnings, new life, and infinite moments of things to be grateful for. Whether it’s the warmth of more sunshine, the reckonings of new buzzworthy SXSW energy, or even the respite of spring break with friends and family, the invitation of gratitude is always around us, but sometimes we can’t always see it.
Like meditation, gratitude can best be experienced when we really become aware and practice it – ideally on a daily basis. I like to think of gratitude as a muscle, and when take moments to acknowledge and express it, we strengthen its presence in our lives.
According to the latest research on gratitude, by Dr Robert Emmons, a researcher and psychologist at U.C. Davis, “grateful people really are different than those who aren’t so grateful. Grateful people tend to be less stressed, place less importance on material goods, are less likely to judge others, and are more satisfied with life and have more vitality and optimism.”
Gratitude is nothing new, and as more people tap into the many benefits, the expressions of gratitude are becoming more widespread. More and more people are choosing to express their gratitude on social media. This can be a great way to share and inspire others. However, while any expression of gratitude is beneficial it is important to take pause when expressing gratitude so it is no just about an outward exhibition but also an inward and authentic reflection and appreciation. The truth is, when practiced from a place of authenticity, gratitude can actually be a very powerful tool to being more present and tapping into heart-centered awareness where we are able to experience peace of mind, greater intuition, and more harmonious relationships.
But like with any practice, it requires a gentle willingness and commitment to really experience the benefits of being more aware, loving, and kind to ourselves and others. Here are just a few tips to cultivate gratitude in our everyday.
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.
4. Bonus: Practice a lovingkindness meditation. Practicing lovingkindness can be a powerful practice that not only makes us feel good, but can also help us see the bigger picture and increase our social connectedness. It is a simple practice where you repeat a series of loving phrases. Enjoy an 8 minute guided lovingkindess meditation here.
Note: Originally published via The Society Diaries