You have probably heard a lot about gratitude lately. It is often talked about in wellness circles, but appreciating the importance of gratitude begs a deeper look. Gratitude is simply being thankful for what you have been afforded. While simple in concept, it can be challenging in practice because it requires intentional thought to spur action, at least in the beginning of your practice. As you continue your work it will become an ingrained habit, something you don't have to think about, it just happens.
Ever notice how when you are feeling good you really don't think about how amazing your body is or how seamlessly it functions? A person more than likely does not appreciate every pain free step until a toe is stubbed, or how wonderful the act of breathing without thinking is until one gets a cold. We often do not take the time to reflect on and thank our bodies for all of the spectacular processes that occur minute to minute until they are taken from us. But we are often quick to complain when we are uncomfortable!
While most know that living with gratitude is a good mindset to embrace, we often do not reflect on the many health impacts this practice can bring to our life. Those that regularly practice gratitude with intent have a higher likelihood of being resilient during difficult times, report better quality sleep, have a stronger sense of hope for their future, and generally speaking are happier people. Sounds like a great deal, right?
Gratitude in practice can "look" different for everyone. It can take the form of a daily gratitude meditation or prayer practice, gratitude journaling, intention setting at waking, or reciting gratitude mantras when falling asleep. If that is too formal or overwhelming to add to your routine right now, an easy way to grow into a gratitude practice is through utilizing "micro-kindness" with intent.
Intentional micro-kindnesses are the little actions that demonstrate thankfulness to self and others for making you and your world a little bit better. Here is an example to get you thinking. While at the coffee shop getting your morning cup of jo look the barista in the eye and thank them genuinely instead of grabbing the cup while checking your email on your phone and running out the door. Offer to take the middle seat in the airplane next time your fly with your travel partner. Or thank your legs for not hurting on your evening walk.
By offering these small kindnesses to self and others you are strengthening relationships, your own individual gratitude practice and your overall health and wellbeing. Start small and continue to watch your practice grow. You and those around you will be thankful for it!