Updated: Apr 8, 2020
I know from experience how important gratitude is to my happiness. It's such a simple action that takes very little time, and yet it's powerful effect is so underestimated. During these challenging times, gratitude is more important than ever in order keep our spirits as high as possible.
Your first challenge is to set up daily gratitude that will work in your life using the steps described below.
1) Decide on what type of gratitude you would like to do: Journal, Meditation or Sharing. For journal writing, find any sort of notebook or even scrap paper that you can cut into smaller sheets and tape or staple into a booklet. Put your journal in a place that you are sure to see every day, and try to write in your gratitude journal each day, preferably at the same time of day so that it becomes a habit. For meditation, take a moment each day by yourself to first focus on the breath, intentionally slowing your breathing, and then to breathe in your gratitude. For each gratitude you silently express to yourself, take a moment to breathe it in. And for sharing, this can be done with one or multiple people in your house, or even using technology to connect with a family member or friend. Sharing can be completed each day during a certain meal or just before bed time works well too.
2) So now you have a plan, but what should I write or say? Well the great news is there is no right or wrong here. Sometimes gratitude can be very easy and lots of ideas come to mind. One can be thankful for a person in their life or an activity or even food. The gratitude might be specific to something that happened today, years ago or in anticipation of something that is going to happen. You might be able to express gratitude for many things, great and small, past, present or future. However, sometimes it can be challenging to come up with even one idea for gratitude, especially on our lowest days. When you are feeling lost for what to be thankful for, try and express gratitude for 'big picture' items. For example, I am thankful for access to clean water or I am thankful to live in Canada. And one final comment about what to write, remember that you can also draw your gratitude if keeping a journal.
3) How or when will I know that it's working? Well, the short answer is you won't. Daily gratitude requires daily attention on an ongoing basis before you can expect it to have any impact to your life. In the HAPPY documentary from filmmaker Roko Belic (https://www.thehappymovie.com/), 50% of happiness was attributed to genetics, 10% to circumstance and 40% to choice. Choosing to complete daily gratitude is one of those choices that can affect your level of happiness over time.
There are many research studies around gratitude and happiness. Here are two interesting articles related to the topic:
How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain:
Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier:
And, of course, you can always include gratitude within your yoga practice. Here are a few online classes I encourage you to check out:
Yoga for Gratitude - Yoga with Adrienne
A gentle 30 minute practice
Finding Resilience Together - Live Yoga Class with Esther Ekhart
Some gentle movement and meditation
Yoga for Gratitude - Heart Alchemy Yoga with Michelle Goldstein
Full body power yoga workout