A Word on Gratitude
We are often encouraged to be grateful for the things that we have, for the people in our life, for the experiences that we encounter. While all of us certainly have the language to speak the words, "I'm grateful for…", really connecting with gratitude often takes more than just syntax.
We cannot be grateful for the things that we have if we are not present for them, if we don't show up and connect with what is current in our lives. If we are constantly thinking about the future, planning for what is ahead, and living our life in the tomorrow instead of the today then it's incredibly tough for us to be grateful for what we have. Gratitude demands that you show up for what is happening now.
Here are a few ways to practice gratitude mindfully:
Establish a gratitude practice that allows you to be mindful in that moment. Practicing gratitude on the run (in the car, in the elevator to work, grabbing a coffee) removes one of the essential pieces of gratitude, which is quieting the mind and being present.
Allow yourself to give gratitude for both the positive aspects of your life as well as the difficult ones. It is the challenges that we experience that often promote change, greater self-awareness, and allow us to build self-esteem. Only focusing on what's going well doesn't paint an accurate picture of life's happenings. So remember to practice gratitude for challenges.
You can practice gratitude for all things – people, places, situations, relationships, anything! Don't limit yourself when it comes to gratitude.
Try not to just pick things to be grateful for that you believe you should be grateful for. Really think about what it is that you want to focus on, what you are actually thankful for versus what sounds right. This will create a more authentic and meaningful practice.