They began by naming the standards:
· “That I have a job that I enjoy, especially in this economy.”
· “That my sister is coming into town for 3 days.”
· “That my mother emerged from surgery alive and healthy.”
Silly statements of gratitude sometimes arose:
· “That the boots I have been wanting went on sale today.”
· “That my butt doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would from sitting on this cushion for this long.”
· “That the cashier at the grocery store asked me how I was doing.”
The list seemed exhaustive, but people continued searching:
· “That the sun rose today.”
· “That my car started.”
· “That I am able to order food and have it delivered to my home.”
· “For the tree I see every day on the way to work.”
People even unexpectedly expressed gratitude for generally problematic events:’
· “That I got a speeding ticket today. Maybe I was driving too fast. I would have felt terrible if something happened.”
· “That I had the flu last week; it reminded me to slow down.”
· “That I could not afford that new car. I didn’t need it.”
Positive psychologists have found that expressing gratitude can change mental and emotional states. Gratitude can turn bad days into good ones and shift your perspective in almost every situation. In his book Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Andrew Weil discussed recent research in which depressed individuals who maintained a daily gratitude journal for one week experienced mood improvement for the six months that followed. Imagine the impact engaging in a daily gratitude practice for the rest of your life could have!
Clearly, experiencing and expressing gratitude can have a profound effect. Consider practicing gratitude in one of the following ways and notice whether it positively influences your life:
As aforementioned, maintaining a gratitude journal can improve emotional functioning. To do so, keep a journal at your bedside. Each night, review the day and note everything for which you are grateful. The list can be brief or exhaustive.
Morning Expression of Gratitude
Similar to a gratitude journal, a morning expression of gratitude requires you to list everything for which you are grateful except that you perform the act upon waking rather than before going to bed. It can be done orally or in writing. A high minimum requirement of items to be listed can challenge you in a healthy way. If you decide to keep a gratitude journal or engage in a morning expression of gratitude, consider having a minimum requirement of 20 items.
As with all meditation, set aside some uninterrupted time during which you can relax. Before you start, decide to whom or what you would like to express gratitude. When you are ready, begin by inhaling and exhaling through your nose with your eyes closed. Spend several minutes relaxing your mind and body by inhaling into your abdomen for a count of four and then slowly exhaling. Pay attention to the physical sensation associated with relaxing your body and slowing down your breath. When your mind is calm, choose a person to whom or something for which you are grateful. As you meditate, recognize all the benefits you receive from that person, object, or activity. Notice the feelings of gratitude that arise, and focus your mind on that sensation. If your mind begins to wander, simply redirect your attention toward the feeling of gratitude.
Deliberately Experience and Express Gratitude Throughout the Day
A less formal way of practicing gratitude involves mentally noting moments as they occur. While the practice may seem the easiest to perform, it can also be the most difficult to remember to do. If you decide to engage in this practice and find that you are forgetting to mentally note grateful moments, consider trying one of the aforementioned suggestions instead.
Thank you for reading this blog entry. I am grateful for your attention.