Sunday, May 13, 2012

Practicing Gratitude: Good Spiritual Manners

How often do you take stock of all the awesome things in your life? I recently instituted the habit of jotting down several things I'm grateful for (almost!) everyday. We all have bad days but practising gratitude is a great way to remind yourself of all the greatness surrounding you and the things you shouldn’t take for granted.

I tend to do it at the end of the day, which allows me to record all the things that day that made me a happy gal. Others like to start the day by listing off the things they are grateful for, i.e. family, friends, job, etc, so as to set the gears in a positive direction. There’s no wrong or right way to integrate gratitude into your day, just make it a frequent exercise in order to condition your thought process toward abundance rather than what’s going wrong.

The idea is that while life will always throw some rough shit your way, if you keep focused on the good things, you’re less likely to feel sorry for yourself and fall deeper in a hole. After all, it’s easy to stay positive when all is well. It’s when times are tough that it can be a challenge to remain upbeat. But these are really the times that it’s most important to make a conscious effort to focus on the good stuff and actively appreciate it. It’s also a great way to put things in perspective.

Eg: Even though I had a shitty day at work I’m thankful that I had a hot shower to come home to, a warm meal to eat and could spend the rest of the night eating peanut MnMs and watching Offspring.  

So you can see how it’s a powerful strategy to frame lousy situations and experiences in a positive light which leads to all round good vibes. The more you focus on the joy in your life the better you feel.

Personally I prefer not to set any rules around the exercise but some people find a little structure will ensure they stick to it. For instance, you could aim to list off three things you are grateful for before you hop out of bed in the morning or five before bed. As I said, I like to list mine off at the end of the day as it prompts me to review the events of the day and pick out the smile inducing stuff.

You can start a Gratitude Journal easily enough by picking out a cute notebook to store your thanks. I started one myself this way but recently shifted to an electronic system since I came into possession of a tablet and discovered the glorious world of apps. If you have a smart phone or tablet I suggest you check out your app store. You’re bound to find a free gratitude journal app. While the old school girl in me loves the idea of a written journal, I was lured to the electronic method by way of fancy new device.  Plus I wanted to upkeep the habit while I’m away in Europe for three months and didn’t want to carry around another notebook with me. The app also automatically includes the date and time of the entry which I find handy.  

Don’t be too rigid about what can be included or how you express it. My list doesn’t necessarily strictly list just what I’m thankful for but extends to happy experiences, beautiful things I’ve seen, yummy things I ate (I’m a foodie, what can I say...), things I’m happy to have in my life, something nice someone said or did, etc – basically anything that gives me reason to be thankful. And it doesn’t always have to be a unique entry either, so don’t worry about entering “chocolate” on multiple occasions. Just go with whatever resonates with you on any given day.

You may also like to include the context for your entry, i.e. rather than just “A kind email at work” can be entered as “Today I had a shitty call from a customer complaining about X and Y and ten minutes later I received an email from a customer thanking me for my help with Z which really brightened my mood.”   

So it kind of morphs into what you could call a “feel good” catalogue that you can refer to for an instant pick-me-up.

Here’s a little sneak peak into my list on the Attitudes of Gratitudes Journal:

Today’s Entry:

·         Joking around in the kitchen this morning with Anti and Patrick.

·         Enjoyed prime sun on the balcony for a glorious 20mins for my dose of vitamin D (sorely needed in my current fluey state).

·         Giving my mum a big Mother’s Day hug.

·         Enjoyed a yummy lunch followed by delicious chai latte and raspberry and white choc slice at a cute cafe in the company of two gorgeous girlfriends.

·         My friend gave me a bunch of TV program episodes on my USB which I’ll be diving into tonight. Second season of Breaking Bad!

·         Came home to a mini high tea with mum and Anti (my sister). We had cute prawn canap├ęs and slices of various desserts mum made last night with freshly brewed tea all served with pretty crockery.

·         Even though I’m still sick from the previous weekend, I believe the worst is behind me!

Ultimately it's an easy, quick, free and uplifting exercise that's also is super fun to look back on.

So get thanking y’all!

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