Start a Gratitude Practice
Since ancient times, philosophers from every spiritual tradition have taught us that cultivating gratitude is a key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being.
This practice can help you find more meaning and joy in your life and lead you to experience profound transformation & peace.
Being in the vibration of gratitude creates instantaneous change in the way you feel. Gratitude empowers you to take control over emotions and stop being at the whim of others or circumstances.
Research has shown that spending as little as 15 to 20 minutes each day reflecting on & processing what you’re grateful for can increase happiness and life satisfaction, and a decrease in depressive symptoms.
- Improved well being
- Boosted Immunity
- Deeper connection with loved ones
- Better sleep
- Improved heart health
- Improved adrenal health/lower stress
Of course it all sounds like a great idea, but we all still have so much trouble actually practicing it. What to do?
Here are some suggestions on how to start a gratitude practice.
1) Gratitude journal. Write down 5 things daily that you are thankful for – anything from kindness to appreciating a beautiful sunset. Then use this time to truly reflect and connect to how much you really appreciate these things. If you can spend at least 17 seconds focusing on the feeling of gratitude you’ll notice more an more thoughts of the same type will come with ease.
Try it, you can use this rampage by Abraham Hicks to notice how focusing on thoughts of gratitude for only 17 seconds make other thoughts equivalent to it easier to find and shifts your emotional state within as little as 17 seconds.
Need help getting started writing?
Here are three questions to ask.
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
You can write in your journal just before bed or when you wake up in the morning. The time of day isn’t important; what is important is that you consistently take a few moments to consciously focus your mind on your blessings.
Oprah Wimfrey states that the gratitude journal she started nearly 17 years ago is the “single most important thing she has ever done.”
2) Dinnertime gratitude- is an easy way to start a gratitude practice at home and involve your loved ones. Before you begin eating, take a moment to simply reflect and share one thing that each of you are grateful for. This is something I do nightly with my girls and love what they show thanks for allowing them to share openly.
The added boost is that by being in the frequency of gratitude it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps our digestions. They yogi’s often say, “don’t eat unless you are calm.” to do so you create dis-ease because the gut is not relaxed enough for proper digestion.
3) Write a thank you letter
This one is particularly helpful if you’re struggling in your own life. Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person or simply keep it for yourself.
If you still doubt the power of gratitude, intention or thoughts, watch this powerful video and work by Dr. Emoto. Watch here>
Once you’ve embraced gratitude, give it some time before you expect changes. With most practices- it takes about 3 weeks to rewire your brain in order for a behavior to become a habit.
The habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things you can learn for your body, especially your adrenal glands, mind and spirit.
It is also one of the only restorative practices, beside sleep, that can turn off your flight-or-flight stress response and can turn on your restorative, parasympathetic nervous system.
Amazingly, it’s also one of the simplest habits to do, you can do it anywhere, any time, and it will always have immediate benefits. How many habits can you say that about?
And while I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called a “practice”!
Until I had a road map for how to get started, it never happened! Here are a few simple tips to take your intention and make it a practice and eventually a daily habit.
Just like anything else – initially getting starting with any new habit or practice takes inspiration, direction and support.
1) Find a buddy
2) Sign up for a meditation class
3) Find a community or Meetup
4) Try an app like Insight Timer that has worldwide online and in-person groups to check in with.
5) There are many free YouTube guided meditations. Be sure to try a few.
Again, a buddy is not essential to start, but it can help you feel more connected to others who are aligned with this interest of yours. Ultimately that really helps motivation, support and encouragement to get started.
Start small and let go of doing it “right”
I started with 5 minutes and it worked like magic. There will always be distractions and excuses. Don’t get caught up in doing it “right” to begin and adjust as you go.
I started with a simple breathing app. It allowed me to slow down, quite my mind and just breath. Download it here>
Initially, people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. If you’re not comfortable sitting cross legged, it helps if you put a cushion under your seat so your hips are higher than your knees. You can also sit up agains a wall for added support.
It’s just for five minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer.
Don’t fixate on doing it first thing in the morning or last thing before bed.
I was told the best time for meditation was in the morning. But here’s the thing. I’m not a morning person and although this is the “ideal” time to meditate, it ended up being the hurdle that stopped me from meditating at all, for a while. So in my book…
The Best Time to Meditate is the Time You’ll Actually Do it.
Instead, I had to find the ideal time for me. I found space in the nooks and crannies of my life.
I began meditating in my car in-between clients and before I picked up my girls from school. I used the app I mentioned above – to start focusing on just my breath.
You know what? Not only did I find myself doing it every day but I began to crave it. I started to look into different types of meditation and even started searching out classes. My time slowly increased from 5 minutes to 15 to 45 minutes. Here’s the app that I graduated too>
Here’s the thing, meditation is as different and diverse as music. You have to find the type that inspires and works best for you.
- Breath work
- Repeating a mantra
- Moving meditation like Qigong and Tai chi
- Kundalini yoga meditations
- Yoga & Yoga Nidra
Your mind WILL wander.
This is an almost absolute certainty. There’s no problem with that. When you notice your mind wandering, drop the judgment and return back to your breath. Don’t fight the thoughts. You might feel a little frustration, but it’s perfectly OK to not stay focused, it’s part of the process. This is the practice, notice how the idea of frustration is just an idea, another thought, occurring in your mind. Just observe the thoughts, don’t fight them. This is so key.
The best tip is to focus on feeling the space around you.
What you focus on you become so when you feel the space around you, you embody those qualities of the space which is emptiness, stillness and quietness. Try it and let me know how this works for you.
Try an online challenge.
I always do better when I’m given a challenge and surrounded with others who are doing it with me.
I love Deepak Chopra & Oprah’s 21-day Meditation challenge.
Play & Purpose
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
~George Bernard Shaw
When was the last time you experienced profound, unbridled joy and laughter? When you felt like a child again, present and free?
I will tell you from experience in working with hundreds of women that regular elation, joy, play and bliss are sorrowfully lacking in our everyday life. This is also one of the reasons why so many people suffer from depression, anxiety.
Sadly, by the time someone realizes what they’ve been missing, their children have left home or it’s time to retire. By then, you’ve all but forgotten how to play and have no idea what actually brings you joy and elation.
Do you have a Joyspot?
This is a place or activity that brings you elation and bliss. This is where I excel and is something I bring into my life as much as humanly possible. Play and joy is something I THRIVE on and helps me THRIVE.
One of my missions is to help women rediscover their Joyspot!
1. Make a playlist. Write down 10 activities or things you’ve always wanted to try or do that you thing would be exciting and bring fun into your life.
2. Dance Every Chance You Get
It may sound silly, dancing is a great way to stay or get, healthy & happy. Dancing to amazing music is where I feel I get to unwind, let go and feel elation like no other.
Through my research on the brain, I’ve discovered that when we dance we actually activate a part of our brains that we don’t use much in the grown-up world. No wonder studies have shown that dancing is one of the best ways to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
Dance in the kitchen while you make dinner, on the way to work, at your desk, in the gym, or even in the shower. Try blasting the music, singing, and dancing when you’re stuck in traffic. You’ll be amazed at how it changes your mood and focus. It doesn’t have to be crazy, you just need to let your body move.
3. Join a group, take a class or find a pick up game.
As children and young adults, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and play. As we grow older, it takes a little more effort to find social play out in the world but there are plenty of opportunities. Here are some suggestions.
- Find a pickup game at your local park or gym.
- Join a hiking group
- Take a dance class
- Sign up for something you’ve always wanted to try, a comedy Improv class, music lessons, cooking classes, rock climbing, pole dancing etc.
And, don’t worry, you don’t have to be good at playing. Play is like anything else; the more you do it, the better you get at it.
4. Get out in nature with friends. Take a day trip or simply plan a playdate to go hiking, running, exploring or hanging out with friends in nature or on the water. It connects you with something primal and exhilarating.
Research shows, being in nature lowers cortisol, increases feelings of happiness, & even boosts the immune system.
Answer this question now, don’t gloss over it –
Who can you reach out to to set up an outdoor playdate or adventure?
5. Have sex more often
Sex is something that can bring proud bliss and joy. If you’re too tired at night, find another time during the day to fit it in. Sex boosts endorphins and oxytocin creating deeper bonds to your partner and overall feelings of satisfaction. For me, sex completely resets my nervous system and boosts my endorphins. Need a little inspiration- try something new – bring in more fantasy, risk, or games.
I leave you with this.
As we mentioned earlier this week, stress can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be brought on by yoyo dieting, lack of restful sleep, too much sugar & caffeine, blood sugar crashes/ fluctuations, food allergies/sensitivities, poor digestion, surgery, and physical trauma.
Today, we talked about emotional stress, lack of purpose, connection, and lack of joy.
It should come as no surprise that our overscheduled, overstretched lives are too much physiologically for our body’s to keep up. At least not successfully.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you’re struggling with your health and barely have enough energy to get through your day, then joy, bliss, and play may sound like a farfetched idea.
You see, late-stage adrenal fatigue is real and can be profoundly debilitating, so debilitating in fact that following my suggestion may seem overwhelming and nearly impossible.
This is why getting a coach or doing it as a group is highly beneficial. I know I’ve suggested a lot her. Just take one of these ideas. Write it down. Set your intention to do it every day for 7-days, commit, execute and watch what happens.