13 ways to express gratitude
Gratitude is not a magic pill; however energy flows where attention goes. When our goal in life is to be more creative, change our thought patterns and experience a greater sense of wellbeing, we need our attention to flow in that direction. This flow creates a discipline of perception where we chose to see the good in a situation. What matters most when we are faced with adversity is – how we see them, how we react to them and whether we keep our composure. Benjamin Franklin once said “the things which hurt, instruct”. Gratitude keeps us open to receiving these instructions. Even when things around you seem to be falling apart you continue to be sangfroid.
Please know that when you begin to feel gratitude fatigue, there is something that you are not doing right. Some things fit better in your life than others. Continue to experiment with different practices that have been outlined below and stick with the one that brings you greatest equanimity. As you plant seeds of gratitude in your life you actively begin to break down problems into opportunities.
- Gratitude walks: gratefulness walks are great for people who can’t sit still and meditate. Ideally walk alone (there are however examples of couples who go on gratitude walks together and they rave about it), carry a small journal with you (or if you don’t like writing, record observations in your phone), the walk can be as short as 15 minutes and try to walk at a place where its quiet.
- Gratitude meditation – you can set different times during your day to plunge into gratefulness meditation. Gratefulness meditations are a great happiness booster and help alleviate feelings to anxiety and stress. Here is a short guided gratitude meditation to get you started Click here and here is another one that I am rather partial to from Brother David. A good day
- Gratitude journal – this is the most extensively researched gratitude practice. Robert Emmons is world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He recommends keeping a gratitude journal. When writing in a journal do not go through the motions, be specific about what you are thankful for. Go for depth over breath. You can be thankful for just one thing during your day but get very very specific about it.
- Gratitude rock: you can pick one up, next time when you are at the beach. Some people keep the rock in their pockets. Each time they touch it, it’s a reminder to be grateful for something in that moment. It’s like a pebble in a shoe, you can’t ignore a rock sitting in your pocket. Others keep the rock on their bed stand (visual reminder), and hold it each night or upon waking up and express gratefulness. The rule of thumb here is again to be thoughtful about what we are thankful for and get unambiguous about it.
- Write a thank you letter: think of someone in your life who has positively influenced you. It could be a grandparent, teacher, friend, mentor, author or someone you admire. Write a thank you letter to them (you don’t have to send it to them if you are not comfortable, the goal to write one). You can then read this letter to remind yourself of the blessings they brought into your life.
- Gratitude visits: when gratitude letter writing is accompanied with gratitude visits it increases happiness and decreases depression for up to 3 months. There is a difference between felt gratitude and expressed gratitude. Consider taking a laminated copy of the letter to the receiver. It’s a great idea when celebrating important milestones in the life of someone that you love.
- Gratitude based spiritual practice: every religion and spiritual practice advocates gratitude. It is practiced through – fasting, silence and solitude, simplicity and mindful materialism and self-reflection. These are all expressions of gratitude.
- Thinking about your own death: the end of a yoga class is followed by ‘shavasana’, it literally means corpse pose. Its only once I began doing my own research about gratitude, I understand the deeper meaning behind this pose. None of us are here forever but we often act like we will outlast everything. Thinking about your own mortality enhances gratitude.
- Take a picture: If you don’t enjoy writing, try taking photos of three to five things during your day that you are grateful for. You can write specific captions for each of these pictures and articulate clearly what makes you feel grateful when you look at these pictures. There are several mobile phone apps that will allow you to do this –Iphone( piction, typic) and for android (phonto)
- Create a mastermind group: create a mastermind group with a focus of building a gratitude practice. Goals become more achievable when we surround ourselves with people who are driven to achieve similar goals. Creating a group will keep you accountable and provide you necessary support.
- When life gives you lemons, make lemonade: take a negative story from your day and try to see how it was a blessing. Here is an example if you are delayed in traffic due to an accident, begin thinking about how this eventuality could be a blessing – I am grateful that I am safe, I am grateful for a mobile phone that enables me to call ahead and notify people. You then begin replacing victim-hood with joy.
- Say thank you : Everyone craves appreciation. Expressing gratitude to a colleague, friend or a family member conveys to them a sense of appreciation. Make your thank you fresh (thank them in the moment or as soon as you can), personal (acknowledge their time and effort) and clear (person being thanked understands the value of what they did). Try not to serve your thank you cold!
- Write a poem: Robert Emmons in his book Gratitude Works writes about Clara Morabito. She wrote a gratefulness poem and read it every day. Clara passed away on 01 June 2015 at the age of 94. The poem she wrote is titled ‘I choose”.
I choose to be happy,
I choose to be grateful,
I choose to be caring
And always be thoughtful.
I choose to be well.
I choose to be fine.
I choose to be healthy
All of the time
I choose to be patient,
I choose to be strong,
I choose to be calm
All the day long.
By Clara Morabito
Words To Grow By
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”