Close

Living in Gratitude

What is gratitude? Gratitude is simply being thankful for our blessings. Gratitude is focusing on and appreciating the abundance we already have instead of what we are lacking. Gratitude can be a one time event, but can also and preferably should be a way of life.
Cheryl Spring

Cheryl Spring

Uniteens Parent Guide

Children. Singing. Spirit. Fireflies. Connection. Expansive grassy fields. A bright candle in the dark. Dancing to fun music. Peace. An anonymous gift left on your doorstep. A sparking clean bathroom. A meal prepared and cleaned up by anyone else. A smile by a stranger during a rough time.  A warm cup of tea with a friend. A hug from your child. The warm sun on your cool face on a brisk day.

Pause for a moment – take in the above words or think of something else that brings you peace, contentment, or gratitude. Feel your body’s response to these small phrases of objects or acts that bring gratitude. That feeling is the reason to live in gratitude every day.  Nothing has changed outside of yourself but paying attention to–and being grateful for– the little things throughout each day helps us change the experience we have in the world.

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is simply being thankful for our blessings. Gratitude is focusing on and appreciating the abundance we already have instead of what we are lacking. Gratitude can be a one time event, but can also and preferably should be a way of life. 

Why Should You Practice Gratitude?

I practice gratitude because it makes me feel good and it makes me a happier person. According to an article on the Harvard Medical School website health.harvard.edu, behavioral and psychological research has shown that practicing gratitude makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, improves health, and it reduces stress. In addition to all of those reasons to for maintaining a simple consistent gratitude practice, there is Unity Principle number three.  The third Unity principle states “I create my experiences by what I choose to think, and what I feel and believe.” Personally, I prefer the short version: “Thoughts in mind, reproduce in kind.” This principle assures us that when we affirm gratitude as a way of life, we experience more things for which to be grateful.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Living in gratitude is not about living with our heads in the sand. True gratitude is accepting life on life’s terms and finding gratitude there – in life on life’s terms.  Am I always in a place of gratitude? In all honesty, much of the time I live in gratitude, but not always. If you are trying to find a way to bring more gratitude into your life, here are some things you can do that work for me and others:

 

 

– Call a friend or family member to see how they are doing. Reaching out to other people is a great way to get out of yourself, and something will come up in that conversation for you to be grateful for, even if it is just catching up with your friend. It is a win-win – your friend gets to talk with you, too!

 

– Go inward. Meditation, connecting with God, listening to your inner voice – the silence is worth the journey inward.  Meditation does not have to be sitting up straight in lotus position chanting “Ohhhmmmm.”  Do what works for you to feel connected: walk in the forest, lay on your floor, beat on your drum. I like to get in my big bathtub on my back and submerge my head until the water is above my ears. When I do that, I can hear my heartbeat and it becomes my focus. Do what works for you.

 

– Getting out and focusing on what you can do for others is a sure way to build gratitude.

 

– Share your gratitude. When you share your gratitude with the people for whom you are grateful, it makes you both feel good! I find this works for pets as well.

 

– To find gratitude during tough times, look at all the troubling times that you have walked through and how you grew as a person having had those experiences. It is those experiences that will guide you through current or future trying times. You can always be grateful for that strength and guidance.

 

– Appreciate everything!

 

– Make a mental gratitude list every day. Every morning before stumbling or leaping out of bed, I think of ten things for which I have gratitude. If you do not already have this practice, I highly suggest you try it. It will start your day going in the right direction and requires nothing – you can even do it before opening your eyes. If you spend the time to imagine in detail and experience your gratitude for each thing, it will help you to become more grateful in your everyday life.

 

– Write in a journal or a gratitude journal. Almost always, getting things out of my head and putting them on paper will eventually lead me to gratitude. Some people have a gratitude journal where they make a daily list of what they are grateful for. For example, one might write whatever comes to mind that they are grateful for that day, or write a certain number of things they are grateful for each day, or write about one thing a day with a lot of depth and detail. There are endless ways to be grateful.

 

– Try to observe everything as if you are an infant. Seeing all the amazingly wonderous things and people that surround us as if we are just noticing them for the first time helps us to be grateful for all the little things that we forget to notice. any more.

 

– Fake it until you make it. Years ago, while struggling with body image, I wrote a child-like and simple poem about many parts of my body, how I am grateful for them, and what they did for me. It was a pretty embarrassing poem, so naturally, I shared it on social media. People reached out and thanked me for posting it, saying it was exactly what they needed to hear. I ended up being so thankful for all of my body and it helped others. Double gratitude!

 

– Pray. Today I am so grateful for prayer, but that was not always the case. Although I prayed often, I did not really experience gratitude as a result. One day, during a very difficult time in my life, a friend shared with me, “I love it when God gives me more than I can handle, because then I have to give it to God.”  For the first time I truly understood what it meant to “Give it to God,” because I did not have a choice. My life changed that day. (Thank you, God!) If you are new to praying, you can try something like this: “Thank you for this difficult time, God, that helped me be closer to you.  It is just too much.really  I’m giving it to you now and will trust that you will work it out. Thank you in advance.”  My point is that you cannot pray incorrectly.

It is important to note that gratitude is not my default way of being. I greatly admire those who have completely attained this state of mind, or at least I would if I knew of anybody who has. My initial reaction to experiences, people, situations, or my teenagers is not always gratitude. However, the more I practice gratitude, the better I get at it, the more it fills my life, and the happier and more content I am.  


Since practicing gratitude makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and creates more things or experiences to be grateful for the more we practice it, why would you not want to enhance your gratitude practice? There is one more thing to always be grateful for as expressed in this Native American saying: “Give thanks for unknown blessings, already on their way.” 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email