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The Habit of Gratitude
(Tuesday, November 26th, 2013)

The Habit of Gratitude

The Habit of Gratitude

Being grateful is something I have been consciously practicing for at least the 17 years.  Way back when Oprah told us all that we should keep a gratitude journal, I took it to heart.  Every day for years I wrote down three to five specific things I was grateful for.  In an effort to not be monotonous and say the same thing every day I worked at being creative.  I wrote down the substantial reasons in the beginning, good health, happy marriage, loving family, nice job, etc.  Then I had to dig a little deeper. I had to force myself to see the smaller reasons to be grateful and they were everywhere.  Simple moments like when I actually tuned in and noticed the clouds billowing across the sky, the sound of a bird singing on my porch or what I’ve come to call the new green on the trees as they started to bloom in spring.

I began to be much more aware of it all.  These things had always been there, but I had been moving so fast I hadn’t noticed. I was a fast person after all.  I talked fast, I walked fast, I moved fast and honestly I was living in my head, with all my thoughts spinning so fast that I barely noticed my surrounding.  I wasn’t totally clueless, I slowed down on vacation, or when I was standing on a mountaintop, but during my regular life I was moving too fast.  What I learned from working to be more grateful was that it forced me to slow down and be mindful.

I consciously choose to work on this, for it didn’t come naturally to me. I came to the realization that if I rushed through everything that I really wasn’t present in my own life.  Have you ever been going so fast all day and then thought back over your day only to realize you can’t remember any of what you have done? To form my new habit I would force myself to stop at various times during the day and take three deep breaths.  When I did this I would go through my senses.  What did I see, hear, feel and smell in that moment? Doing this made my senses come alive.  It was as if I hadn’t been tapping into them for years.  Over a period of time gratitude and mindfulness have become a habit that has brought me so much joy.  It has opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me daily and simple pleasures I used to take for granted. Joy is something that only happens in the moment, but it is always there for you to access.  There are a myriad of ways you can tap into gratitude, but here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Practice Mindfulness

Make time a few times a day to stop, take three deep breaths and consciously use all your senses. You will be amazed at what you will open your heart up to.

2.  Keep a Gratitude Journal

Pick a book, journal or a specific place where you make it a habit to write down three to five things each day that you are grateful for.  You can keep this book with you, or keep it on the nightstand and write in it before you go to sleep.

3.  Secure a Gratitude Partner

This works great with families, but you only need at least one other person to share at the end of each day what you are grateful for.  It sets a nice tone for positive and uplifting conversations around the dinner table or with that special person you chose as your gratitude partner.

4.  Take a Gratitude Walk

Sometimes when I go for a walk I simply go over in my head the many things that I am grateful for.  If I am alone in the woods, I will say them out loud. It amazes me that even on the simplest of days I can be grateful for so much.  Things like the clothes on my back, the wind on my face, and the beauty of the trees.

5.  When Having a Bad Day Make a List

If you are experiencing a down day, a set back or you are not reaching a goal as quickly as you would like.  Get a pen and paper and write down everything that is going right.  You will find when one thing is going wrong, there are at least a dozen things going right.  Focus on what is going right and be grateful.  The same applies for a long-term goal.  If you feel discouraged you are not completing your goal as quickly as you want, write down all the steps you have already taken.  If you are trying to lose weight and you have hit a plateau, write down all the healthy changes you have already made in your lifestyle and give yourself credit for how far you have come.  Both of these lists will help you gain clarity and perspective that you are moving in the right direction.

When you spend time being grateful you are focusing on what is going right, and this amplifies the good things in your life and as a result you feel happier.  Studies have shown that grateful people experience more moments of happiness, joy and positive emotions. You can be grateful for so many things, the pen you are writing with, the chair you are sitting on or the smile you received from a stranger. If you can’t find anything to be grateful for, put your hand on your chest and feel the beating of your heart.

Right now I want to thank all of you for taking this glorious journey with me.  Today I am counting you as one of my many blessings.  Some of you have been with me from the start and others are new to knowing me.  Either way you make a difference in my life.  Your support fills me with so much gratitude that my heart overflows with love.  Thank you for letting me into your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love and Light,

Michele

 To learn more about how to adopt happy habits for yourself, check out Michele’s book, “Happiness is a Habit: Simple Daily Rituals That Increase Energy, Improve Well-Being and Add Joy to Every Day.”