In 2018, I was in a funk. After a life-changing experience living abroad, I begrudgingly moved back to the States and the disappointment was palpable. Then it occurred to me: by focusing on what I thought I’d lost, I couldn’t appreciate all that I had. I decided to start a gratitude practice, and it’s been transformative. These days, I’m notably happier. I laugh more, complain less, and go with the flow of life instead of swimming against the tide. The good news? You can do it, too! Gratitude exists in abundance. Here’s how to get started:
Don’t Overthink It
Gratitude doesn’t have to be deep, grandiose, or time consuming. You also don’t need a fancy journal to make it legit. Grab a notebook, use your phone’s notes app, or even record a voice memo if writing isn’t your jam, and document up to three things you feel grateful for each day. Nothing is too small! I’ve written about good cups of coffee, full nights of rest, and exceptionally delightful pieces of pie. Commit to the practice for one week, and evaluate how it impacts your mood.
Energetically, there’s a huge difference between “I am grateful for my partner” and “I am grateful for my partner because they hold space for me when I need them to listen.” Getting specific about why you are grateful helps bridge the gap between expressing it and really feeling it.
Feel Into It
Feeling gratitude is magical. It roots us in the present and makes it easier to identify our blessings. Here’s an exercise to help you tap into it: close your eyes and envision something you are truly thankful for (let your intuition guide you, there’s no wrong answer). Now hone in on the reasons why—e.g. you may be grateful for a bonus check because it provides financial security, allows you to start saving for that big vacation, and enables you to take care of yourself with greater ease. When finished, take three rounds of breath. Smile, give thanks, and allow your eyes to gently flutter open.
By Aja Vines, @ajavines
Illustrated by Kah Yangni
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