Tis the season for reflecting on that which we are grateful. Gratitude is a practice we can of course do all year long, but it's good to have the reminder of Thanksgiving to help us pay extra attention. By remembering the good in our lives, we can more easily tap into the feeling of abundance which is closely related to gratitude. Here are 5 ways to practice feeling abundant and grateful.
1. Gratitude Journal
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." - Eckhart Tolle
Whether it's in the morning, evening or a time when the feeling strikes you, writing things down is a great way to remember. I particularly like the idea of doing this at the end of the day as a way to prepare the the mind and heart for a more restful, peaceful sleep. Even if it was a long, rough day, taking a few moments to write about a couple of things in a gratitude journal can take us out of the mode of complaining and lacking, into a feeling of being thankful and having enough.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”- Thích Nhất Hạnh
By practicing mindfulness throughout the day we can shift out of our habitual patterns of planning, seeking, regretting, and longing into a feeling of contentment. By being fully present while washing dishes, we can appreciate the sound of the water, the sensation of water and soap on our hands, and the act of cleansing and renewal. When we focus on the moment, we can more easily turn chores into opportunities of presence.
3. Share the Love
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi.
When we focus on negativity and what we are missing, we have less love and compassion to share with others. By remembering the good in our own lives, we are filled with a greater sense of abundance and thereby have more energy to give. Sharing the love- in thought, word and action- can actually helps us to feel more grateful. According to research published in BMC Public Health, people who volunteer their time to help others tend to have lower feelings of depression and increased overall well-being.
4. Move Your Body
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, people who practiced gratitude also engaged in more exercise. Being physically active can help us to clear our minds, let go of tension in the body, and feel more open and free. Less stress = more space for gratitude.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice....And When You Get Off Track, Begin Again
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”- Thích Nhất Hạnh.
Just like everything else, gratitude takes practice. And the more we practice, the easier and more fluid it becomes. But we are human, and have our range of human emotions. It's impossible to feel grateful at every single moment. So when we find ourselves getting off track, falling into the patterns stagnant negative energy, we can always begin again. Wake up with the new day and renew your commitment to gratitude. Wake up to the moment and recommit to being present. When we give ourselves room to be human, and not perfect, we are less likely to get bogged down in guilt and disappointment which can infringe on being grateful. We must be open and willing to make mistakes, and with loving kindness, redirect our energy back the practice of gratitude.