Gratitude permeates the last quarter of the year but it can often trickle away with the demands of the coming year. The best way to combat the fade is to develop your own gratitude practice. Continually looking at life situations, both negative and positive, through a lens of appreciation helps increase positive affect, productivity, and overall wellness. If you are ready to incorporate your own gratitude practice, the following five elements are key to ensuring your practice becomes a ritual that infuses your daily life with peace, positivity, and productivity.
- Pick a regular time either tied to a specific time of day or a specific activity. Many people feel strongly about starting the day with a gratitude practice. They feel like it sets the tone for the entire day and starts it off well. If you are not a morning person, or already have full mornings, you can pick another time of the day to do it. The key is to tie it to something, like brushing your teeth at night, or on your drive home from work. This helps make it a part of your routine and it is the daily practice that really adds richness to gratitude.
- Start slowly and be patient with yourself. For most, gratitude doesn’t come naturally and the awareness of our blessings needs cultivating. If the practice feels forced or nothing comes to mind for a while, it is okay! Don’t stop. Keep working at it. Over time, it will come easier and there will be more things that you feel gratitude for. Trust us!
- Minimize parameters initially. Your appreciations don’t need to be specific to the day or tied to huge feelings. Let what comes, come! Try not to judge your thoughts and set expectations for what your gratitude practice should look like. Your gratitude practice initially does not also need to include an actionable step. Some like to take it and use it as inspiration for the next day, but we find for beginners, this can add an unnecessary step to the practice that might make it less likely to stick. Keep it simple and easy. As it becomes more embedded in your day, you can add layers to it if you think it will be valuable.
- Refocus your thoughts away from what isn’t “right” or “working” in your life. Sometimes, when you start thinking about things that you are appreciative for, it can lead you to immediately start thinking about what you need to work on, or worse, what hasn’t been working for you. It can start a frustration loop that doesn’t serve you. For individuals who like to problem solve, or are natural fixers, this can happen! Retrain your mind processes to bring it back to what things are “right” or are “working” and set aside the constructive thoughts for another time.
- Incorporate reflection on past days of gratitude in your practice. This can be as simple as reflecting on how it went the day prior. Alternatively, if you choose to journal your gratitude practice, you can look back at what you wrote earlier in the week, or our favorite, looking back on what you wrote on this day last year.
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