You know when you learn about something new and you start to see it everywhere? Or another common example is that you buy a new car and then everyone and their mom seems to drive that car now?
That’s what practicing gratitude has been like for me. Now that I’m including it in my daily habits, it’s showing up everywhere and my friends are sharing that they have been doing the same!
Since I’m not one to hog the wealth, I’ll go ahead and tell you how it has really improved my life and how you can use it to up your happiness as well!
First, I have to tell you, this weekend was one of the most love-filled weekends I’ve experienced in Austin. I spent Friday with one of my closest friends, whom I met through improv class (proof that you should get out there, invest in your hobbies, and connect with other hilarious humans). We had one of those fluid evenings where everything is easy, everything is fun, and the drinks are free flowing.
At one point we made friends with some people who were in town for Formula One and we laughed and chatted for hours. It was one of my favorite evenings because I am so energized by meeting new people. Especially when they understand the meaning of good banter.
I went home feeling so grateful for the opportunity to fulfill my extroverted tendencies and for ability to befriend people quickly.
Full disclosure, this is something I actually write in my gratitude journal. “I am grateful for my ability to talk comfortably with strangers, and to connect with people quickly.”
By showing gratitude for this quality in myself, I’m able to experience these moments more frequently and really appreciate them. The more introverts I surround myself with, the more I realize that this ease of communication and connection with new people is not a global trait, and it’s something a lot of people struggle to do.
So I make damn sure to show the Universe how grateful I am, and I welcome opportunities to use this skill!
Saturday night was just as delightful. I’ve been really focusing lately on my desire to host and attend dinner parties with good friends. A girl wants what she wants!
There’s something so intimate about gathering around a table of good food with people who support you, love you, joke you, etc. Why do you think Pinterest is overflowing with tips on how to host a good dinner party??
On Saturday night, a close friend of mine invited me to join a “Family Dinner” night with her group of friends. (Thank you Universe!!) We drank wine, told stories, made fun of each other, supported each other.
As part of their Family Dinner traditions, we even went around the table and shared "The best thing that is going on in our life right now" and “The best thing that happened in our day.”
Sound familiar? Those are gratitude practices.
Even when I’m not intentionally sitting down to write in my gratitude journal, or expressing gratitude internally as I go through my day, I’m still being presented with opportunities to feel appreciation and recognize all the things I have going for my life. And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
Getting to participate in Family Dinner was one of the most special experiences I’ve had in Austin. As an only child, and avid interloper, I can tell you there is nothing more magical than other people welcoming you into their home as one of their own.
I woke up Sunday morning, and through my daily gratitude practice, I knew that that day would bring just as much joy as the previous two.
But, I feel the need to pause for a second to clarify something.
Does practicing gratitude mean that every day is easy 100% of the time? No. Sometimes things happen that cause us pain, derail our mood, or flat out rip us apart. It’s okay to feel these feelings.
The importance of practicing gratitude is evident even more when things feel like they're going to shit. Because by actively choosing to be grateful for the lesson in that moment, we’re able to get ourselves back on track more quickly, and to be present in the next moment allowing it to bring us joy.
So in terms of my weekend, Sunday was not a total cake walk. Even before the day had really begun, I had to have a tough conversation with someone I care about, and it left my heart aching.
BUT. I knew that my practicing gratitude for all that situation was teaching me, I would be able to pull myself out of the funk and make the best of what was left in the day.
I knew that was true, even though I was feeling sad. Even though it was cold and rainy outside. Even though I easily could have crawled back in bed with a season’s worth of grey’s anatomy and just wallowed.
Instead I let myself feel (because the reality is that suppression is not in my repertoire, even if it were a healthy tool) and then I pulled myself together and went to meet my friends for a goodbye lunch.
As a fun exercise, we decided to share what we are most grateful for about our friend who is leaving town. It was far more emotional than one would expect for a lunch in a public place, but that’s why it was so awesome!
We all had really amazing things to share about this person, and she was able to really see how much she is valued and loved. Who doesn’t want to feel that??
I received this text later that night that actually moved me to write this post:
If you could make people feel like this everyday simply by telling them how special they are, why would you not??
The next day I received another message in which a friend shared some of the biggest things they’ve learned this year. Guess what made an appearance on the list?
There it was again, gratitude. Everywhere I look recently gratitude has been popping up. It’s effect on my life has been profound and I now see that I’m not the only one in my network experiencing this shift.
If you want to harness your ability to create more positive experiences (and more abundance) in your life, the real truth is that you have to get really good at being grateful.
Be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you do not yet have. Be grateful for the good times, and the bad. Be grateful for everything from your ability to walk, to your ability to crave a pizza and have that shit show up at your door 30 minutes later! #magic
If you’re interested in bringing more of what you want into your life, and enjoying each day on a deeper level, here are some exercises you can start practicing today:
- Write down 10 things your grateful for every morning, and every night. Really feel into it, say them out loud! Look your dog or your partner in the eye and say “I’m grateful for this cup of coffee! It gives me superpowers! I’ve always wanted superpowers!"
- If you want to take it a step further, write down something you're thankful for, then write down three reasons why you’re thankful for that thing.
It can be a person, a place, an event, an object. Doesn’t matter. Next, write down 3 ways that you could show gratitude to that person/place/thing if you wanted to.
You don’t actually have to do it, but you will start to signal to the Universe that this is something you want more of because you’re focusing your energy on it. You’ll also just feel really good because your brain is firing off the same way it would if you were actually experiencing that person/place/thing in real time. Yep, I know, it’s pretty cool.
- For those who reallllllly want to take this gratitude thing to the max, you can even go one step further. Practice completing step #2 for different areas of your life, then after you’ve done a few, move to something that has actually been causing you stress or anxiety or anger. Write down that person/place/event/etc. and complete #2 for it!
By now you should be in such a good vibration that you’ll be surprised how easily you can come up with things you appreciate about what you just wrote. The quickest way to change how you feel about something is to start focusing on all the good aspects of it, because pretty soon that is all you will see.
It may be tough the first time or two, but you will start to get familiar with the sensation of showing gratitude for things that bring you angst or anger, and by feeling into how you would show this person appreciation, you’ll actually shift your thoughts and feelings. Since you can’t actually change other people or circumstances, you can only change yourself, this is a GREAT tool to have in your emotional arsenal.
So spend the next week really feeling into what you have going well in your life! If you write down someone’s name, I encourage you to share that with them! Tell them why you wrote down their name. Not comfortable with it? Read my text above again. Now imagine you have the capacity to make someone feel that good, because you do.
Feeling bold? Leave me a comment below sharing one thing you're grateful for! I'd love to hear it, and it may even spark some appreciation in someone else!