Updated: Dec 28, 2019
What does gratitude mean to you? To me, it means having the ability to authentically acknowledge and appreciate our privileges, experiences and opportunities in life. It sounds pretty easy when I summarize it into one sentence, but the truth is we have to work to shift our mindset into a space where we actively embrace gratitude.
Majority of the material that I review speaks to feeling grateful in comparison to those that we perceive as being less fortunate than us, typically in relation to finances or material things. I often speak to clients and loved ones about gratitude and how difficult it is to feel grateful when we are consistently comparing ourselves to others, a challenging space to be in if we are attempting to embody authentic gratitude. My invitation to the individuals that I have these discussions with is to create a space for themselves to practice the art of gratitude.
You can start small by actively expressing gratitude for little things in your life such as your partner brushing the snow off your car or your friend sending you a nice text message. Eventually gratitude will become second-nature to you and allow you to express appreciation on a larger scale for things such as your privileges, experiences and opportunities. Research has shown that by engaging in this practice we can strengthen our relationships, cope with traumatic or difficult situations more easily, increase the restfulness of our sleeps and boost our ability to regulate daily emotions.
One of my favourite activities to do with clients is to create a gratitude jar or box. This is a simple activity that you can do at home!
You will need: A jar or box, sticky notes or little pieces of paper and a pen.
I usually ask clients to stick their jar or box in a place that they will go on a daily basis so they are always reminded to add to it. Once a day, carve out some time (1-2 minutes) to write down something you are grateful for, fold the paper up and stick it in your jar/ box. At the end of each month, 1/2 year, full year (whatever works for you), take some time and read all of the notes to yourself at once.
This is a fun way to flood your mind with a bunch of amazing reminders of things you are grateful for.
Another activity that I have personally found helpful is engaging in keeping a gratitude journal, I just answer the following questions as often as I can during the week and review my answers once a month:
What are some things you are grateful for? (No thing is too big or too small)
What is something you experienced or accomplished this year that you are grateful for?
What is an upcoming opportunity that you are grateful for?
Who in your life are you grateful for right now?
Once you have engaged in embracing gratitude you create the space for yourself to appreciate all things in your life, big or small and that is a very powerful way to elevate your overall well-being.