If you’re a regular yogi, you likely hear the word “gratitude” in almost every yoga class. There’s a reason, though, this word is mentioned so often in our practice. Gratitude quite literally means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It’s important to not only show yourself some gratitude on the mat, but what really matters is how you practice gratitude off the mat.
It sounds so simple to be thankful. We all know what it means. We know we should be doing it. But can we actually practice what we preach? Between our careers, personal errands, work outs, family obligations, and of course having a social life…we already have so much on our plates. So where’s the time to show some gratitude? It’s easier to make time than you think!
We’ll get to the how of showing gratitude, but let’s start with the why. Why do it in the first place? There’s real scientifically proven benefits to incorporating gratitude into your daily life. Some examples include more / better quality relationships, improved overall physical and psychological health, enhanced empathy / reduced aggression, better sleep, higher self-esteem and increased mental strength. If being grateful can do all of that, why aren’t we showing gratitude more often? With our busy lives, we might forget to show gratitude (whether it be towards ourselves or others). So hopefully this post is a friendly reminder to show some gratitude. And here’s 5 creative ways you can do so.
Start a gratitude journal
This is probably the most common way people express and even keep track of gratitude, as all you need is a pen and a notebook (or the notes section of your iPhone, however we do prefer pen and paper!) At the end of each day, write down 1-3 things you were grateful for that day. It can be something major like a promotion at work or even just being grateful for your health. Literally anything you’re grateful for, write it down. To make this a habit, designate a time and space each day for you to write in your gratitude journal (ie: after dinner in your bedroom). Set a calendar reminder if you need to. This way, you have a little extra something to look forward to each day. Additionally, you can keep track of all the wonderful things you’re grateful for. Know that you can always go back and read your gratitude journal on days you might need a little boost. We all get down, and that’s okay. Being able to reflect on what you’ve been grateful for over the last few days, weeks or even months can really get you back in the right mindset.
Start a gratitude jar
Although you can start this at any time of the year, it’s a great New Year’s Resolution to make. So if you’re already thinking of your 2020 resolutions, this is a fantastic place to start. Instead of keeping a gratitude journal, start a gratitude jar. Starting on January 1 (or whatever time you choose), write down one thing you’re grateful for each day and put it in the jar. Then in January 2021 (or one year after you start your gratitude jar), take time to look through all of the things you were grateful for that year. Certainly, you don’t have to wait an entire year to review your gratitude jar but it’s a fun experiment to do starting each new year. This is something you can do on your own, with your partner or even with your kids.
Create a gratitude ritual
If you’re all about gratitude and want to share this greatness with your partner / family, try creating a ritual around it. Whether you talk about what you’re thankful for at the dinner table each night or tell your partner what you’re grateful for before bed, find what kind of gratitude ritual works for you. If that sounds like too much, try shooting for once a week to share what you were grateful for that week. That way, it alleviates pressure to come up with something everyday if that’s just not in the cards. Who knows though? Maybe after a while you’ll want to make this a daily ritual. Regardless of the frequency, create the gratitude ritual that is best for you, your partner and / or your family.
Make a gratitude wall, bulletin board or collage
If you’re more of a visual person, this might be the best option for you. Designate a portion of a wall (or an entire wall if you really want to go for it!) for all the things you’re grateful for. You can post sticky notes with one thing you’re grateful for each day on this wall (can also be a mirror, door or bulletin board). That way, you always have something in your home that’s already laid out for you to appreciate and add to each day. If you prefer images to words, create a photo collage of the things you’re grateful for – friends, family, pets, adventures, etc!
Write thank you notes
And not the kind you’re mom forced you to write for your holiday gifts as a kid (“thanks grandma for the socks…even though I really wanted Nintendo 64”). This way of showing gratitude really extends beyond yourself. Make it a point to write one thank you note / email each day. Whether it’s to a friend, family member, co-worker, even a service provider – share you gratitude with someone who will also benefit from it.
Developing an attitude of gratitude is really the first step in incorporating more gratefulness into your life. It’s one thing to be grateful but it’s another to incorporate gratitude. Thankfully, there are several ways you can show it that will not only benefit you, but the ones around you as well.
What’s your favorite way to incorporate gratitude into your life? Will you be trying anything mentioned here? Let us know!