This holiday season has been bonkers for me and it has taken a lot of discipline to stay connected to my daily wellness routine. However, I can proudly say that this season I have not skipped one meditation session or one gratitude journal entry. Could I say this 6 months ago? Nope, I was good but I was not consistent and consistency is where the magic happens. Self Care has become number one for me in my book this holiday season and it will for sure continue on into 2017. One of the things that has been the biggest blessing in this routine is my appreciation and more importantly my acknowledgement of gratitude. I use to think being grateful just meant saying thank you when someone did something nice for you. Well, in some ways I guess it does but OMG this word has so much more meat to its meaning. Here are some ways that I practice gratitude, each of these are simple and 100% authentic, never forced:
- Everyday I say something nice and unexpected for someone. Examples of this might be pay for someone’s coffee in line, open the door for someone, tell someone I like their haircut or maybe sit down in our local park and yack it up with a stranger. ( lol I make sure they look like they might want me to do this first- Mike thinks I would talk to a wall if it would listen ) This is now a habit but when I first started I did have to think about it to make sure I did it.
- Each AM I start my day doing my 5 Tibetan yoga practice then I throw open my blinds in my room and I say a simple “Thank You” I never take one day for granted. I am truly thankful to have a new day to live and feel the wonders of the world.
- This might sound odd to you but when my tea is brewing I stop and watch the brewing process with mindful thinking. I watch the leaves unfold as the warm water drips on the them and I take time to truly be thankful for the beautiful drink I am about to enjoy. I do this everyday. This not only helps me be more mindful in the moment but it gives me time to be grateful for this gift of a warm cup of tea. I never take it for granted.
- Before I hit the hay each night I write in my gratitude journal. It is never forced and if I don’t feel anything then I leave it blank. This has only happened once in the last 6 months and honestly I think I was just in a major cranky mood due to a hormone surge- ( TMI sorry )
This is not fluffy woo woo stuff I am throwing at you friends. The research is pouring in and it is pretty much mind blowing. Practicing gratitude each day is something each of us has the power to do each and every day. This practice can not only change your life but the lives of the people around you. AND can we also talk for a moment about how your kids are going to react? They might not show it but trust me they are watching. When you engage in a gratitude practice each day you are modeling some powerful examples of how to live.
Steven Toepfer, an associate professor in the department of human development and family studies at Kent State University, has investigated the close connection between gratitude and well-being. In a 2011 study of more than 200 relatively happy undergraduate students, he and his team found that those who wrote one meaningful letter of gratitude per week over the course of three weeks — spending about 15 to 20 minutes on each — experienced significant gains in happiness and life satisfaction, and a decrease in depressive symptoms. “You don’t even have to mail the letters,” Toepfer says. “The process is about reflecting, in a conscious way, on the things you are grateful for.
This research study 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. Is there a safer drug out there that you can recommend? I think not.
Writing down what you’re thankful for before you hit the pillow can help settle the mind and help you get sleep, according to a study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Specifically, researchers found that when people spent 15 minutes jotting down what they’re grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer because they worried less, Psychology Today reported. Participants with neuromuscular disorders reported that they had more refreshing sleep in just 3 weeks. Combine this with a daily meditation practice and your life has changed for the better. I know mine has.
There are thousands of ways to practice gratitude but they all end up providing the same results. These do not happen overnight but with a consistent practice you will notice tremendous benefits.
Is there room for some of this practice in your 2017? : -) I hope so because I am confident that together we can change the world one thank you, one door open and one journal entry at a time.