Like it or not, we are part of an ‘instant’ society. We want instant results, gratification, and answers. Maybe it’s just me having grown up right before computers were part of everyday life, but to me, the ‘instant’ society just isn’t sustainable (and I sometimes find it exhausting). Plus, it sets us up for disappointment when we don’t get ‘instant’ results.
But what if I were to tell you there is something out there that can give you all the following benefits in just a few minutes a day:
- Better sleep
- Better physical health
- Better mental health
- Better relationships
- Less materialistic
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- More empathetic
- A positive mindset
Right now I’m imagining you’re thinking one of two things. 1. You’re thinking, all that in only a few minutes a day? Sign. Me. Up. 2. You’re extremely skeptical and think this all sounds too good to be true.
Not only is it NOT too good to be true, it is all obtainable through one thing.
That’s right. Practicing gratitude. This magical practice has so many benefits that if it were a pill, I can only imagine people would line up to take it. It is THAT good. Don’t believe me? Check out just a fraction of great articles I found backing up these claims:
- 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round
- The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
- 5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude
- 10 Reasons why Gratitude is Healthy
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How to practice gratitude
Now that you’ve heard all the wonderful benefits, how do you start implementing a gratitude practice into your schedule? As I wrote about in this post, I’m a big fan of Stephen Guise and his book ‘Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results’. I won’t go into too much detail here, but basically, the idea is when you are trying to incorporate a new habit or routine, you start small. Like, silly-small. The example Guise wrote about was doing only one push-up when he was trying to work out regularly. He literally told himself all he had to do was one push-up a day. The idea is that some days you start doing more and more as Guise did, and eventually it got him into a regular workout routine.
Relating this to gratitude, I would recommend starting small. Don’t jump in and try to do 20-minutes of journaling a day if that isn’t your thing. You may not stick with it, or you may start getting discouraged if you don’t do it every day.
So, start silly small. Start with writing down, typing, telling a someone about one thing you are grateful for a day. If you want to take it a step further, also write down why you are thankful for this particular thing. But if you find yourself not even able to remember that each day, that’s fine. Try this for a week. Then, go up to two times a day, and so on.
Eventually, you can get to a point where you can journal, draw, have a long conversation, list three things (or more) a day. If you like using apps, there is an app called ‘Bliss’ that has a gratitude component to it (I’m sure there are much more out there, but Bliss is the only one I’ve personally used). It is available for Apple, Android, Google Chrome and Firefox (I’m not affiliated with Bliss, just a happy user).
Gratitude journals are also a great tool to use. There are many on Amazon, such as this One-Minute Gratitude Journal (less than $6!). Or you can use a regular journal if you don’t want or need the gratitude prompts. Choose the time of day that works best for you for this practice. Whether that is right before bed, right when you wake up, on your lunch break, during the kid’s nap time, whatever works best for your schedule. Then, start. Really. It’s that easy.
For me, gratitude is the one practice that was easiest to implement and the quickest to shift my mindset towards living a more mindful and intentional life. If I have a day where I’m feeling anxious or stressed, the quickest way to feel grounded is to think of 2-3 things I’m grateful for at that moment. I can instantly feel my body releasing tension, my stress melting and my breathing softens and deepens. It really works.
Although gratitude may not be a cure-all for every ailment out there, the benefits seem to speak for themselves. And I’ve experienced those benefits. By starting small and working your way up, you will be able to start a gratitude practice and reap the benefits too.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate a gratitude practice? Do you use a gratitude journal, app or another tool?
Photograph and guided meditation prompts © Ld Nature Photography & The Mindful Mom Blographer | 2017 and cannot be used without written consent.