I’m feeling the good energy one feels after spending a positive, uplifting afternoon with other women. The spring retreat was yesterday and we really focused on exceptional well-being practices that would not only feel good but leave us lifted up and in a more optimal state emotionally and mentally.
It’s not the same as being in person but it’s oh so good.
One of the themes that came up a lot by the end of the retreat is the work that these women need to do around releasing fears.
And in coaching work, this is a big part of the work we do. It’s necessary to release fears in order to move forward in our lives.
When we are standing up for ourselves, our beliefs, our dreams … we are also putting ourselves out there. We are giving ourselves space to do something incredible, something novel.
In my recent podcast, I am talking about how we make decisions to act on our Brave Yes Leaps.
These resilience strategies are a part of my Rise Stronger Retreat Workshops that I am offering for FREE to teams of frontline and essential workers all over the world through Zoom through March. (I also offer the retreat workshops for business and organizational teams.)
Gratitude gets a bad rap by some. But the truth is that it is one of the most scientifically studied happiness booster anyone can practice. And when practiced whole-heartedly and honestly, it can be the most powerful shift out of anger, frustration and impatience — which I think we can all agree is much needed right now in our world.
8 Ways a Gratitude Practice Can Make You Happier
I can’t imagine ending a day without focusing on what I’m grateful for.
But I can tell you that sometimes I open my journal and think there is NOTHING to be grateful for today. However, instead of letting that be the ending of that narrative in my head, I sit with pen in hand, close my eyes and reflect on my day. Sometimes I let the simple things take over. But most often some memory from earlier in the day returns and I am washed over with a beautiful feeling. When this happens, a smile of … “I told you so” washes over my face.
Gratitude can make you happier. Here’s what it offers to you with consistent practice …
It can absolutely boost your self-esteem and self-worth.
It can reduce your stress and symptoms of trauma.
It can encourage a meaningful life that cultivates more compassion and kindness.
It helps to build better quality relationships.
It prevents forms of social comparison/jealousy.
It decreases negative emotions and feelings.
It reduces boredom and prevents living in the status quo.
So just what do you need to do to start a meaningful gratitude practice?
As long as you believe there is nothing to be grateful for it’s going to be hard to start let alone maintain a practice rooted in positivity. So the first step is just choosing to try it. Resistance is your teacher here. If you resist this practice, there is a message there for you to listen to. Ask yourself, why am I resisting this? What am I unwilling to experience? Or, what am I trying to cling to here?
TRY IT FOR 30 DAYS.
A day or two of gratitude — especially when inconsistently practiced — isn’t going to bring you the true life-changing happiness booster effect that a consistent practice will offer. So vow to try doing a practice for a substantial period of time. This might be 7 days. Or two weeks. I’m suggesting you give it a try for 30 days — long enough to really make it more of a habit. Some believe a daily practice is too much. But for many, a consistent daily practice keeps the habit sustainable rather than out of sight, out of mind.
MAKE IT A RITUAL
Yes, doing your gratitude practice regularly is key. But learning to FEEL gratitude when it comes up is the practice and ritual of it all. Make it a powerful ritual in your day to take time in your day to recognize even just one thing you can be grateful for and spent a minute reflecting on that one thing. By making this a habit throughout your day you will start to really feel the gratitude “wash” that will lead to more positivity.
WRITE IT DOWN — OR NOT
I write my gratitudes down in a new journal each year and I save them to be able to give to my daughters some day. I re-read them from time to time as well for great memory keeping. But you don’t have to write down gratitudes to experience the happiness boost. Take a picture on your phone and store them in a special album to print at the end of the year. Meditate on what you are grateful for. Or start a family gratitude bulletin board.
EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE
Better than anything is offering your gratitude to someone else. By sharing what you are grateful with someone else – or why you are grateful for them — you are spreading the positivity and good emotions. This is a joy injection for everyone, including yourself. So don’t be afraid to go out of your way to express gratitude to someone today. Your child or partner. A friend. A store worker. A teacher or principal. The postal worker delivering your mail. There are many needing a dose of gratitude right now.
What is your first action step to begin feeling more grateful today?
In just a few months, I will begin my 10th year of my daily gratitude journaling practice.
I’ve never done anything else more consistently — other than breathe, eat and shower.
But the science of gratitude is powerful and its affects are what keep me coming back year after year to keep this practice going.
When I first began writing a my daily gratitude list, I often repeated the same few things. My lists were short and sweet.
Now, I could write for an hour. My list is often a page and sometimes continues onto the next.
Re-living the day, focusing on the beauty that unfolded is nourishing for me.
But what I love most is how those moments speak to me and bring a smile to my face as I remember how I took the time in my day to notice and really savor what was unfolding.
Keeping this practice truly helps me improve my connections with those I love, feel more content and appreciative of my life and brings me a flow of abundance by the sheer act of focusing on the beauty in my life.
But the science is clear.
It’s not just about feeling grateful.
We must savor these special moments and experiences as well. And we must have the radical presence to stay awake long enough to savor them rather than rush through to the next moment.
The act of savoring a moment, a connection, an experience IS what can turn an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one.
“Savoring is when you intentionally try to make positive emotions last longer or be stronger. Regularly engaging in savoring has been shown to contribute to improved well-being, so let’s practice savoring.” — Berkeley Well-Being Institute
Savoring has long been a practice for me. It’s in the title of my first book.
And as a coach who has superpowers in both helping you be more productive and active AND enjoying life and finding ease, this is a practice I love to bring into my clients lives as a regular habit.
Here are a few Savoring Practices to use in your day:
Show it. Then Tell it. — One of my favorite morning mantras to say when I wake up is Good Morning! What a beautiful day. I’ve never seen this one before.
And its’ true. I haven’t seen this day before. Taking that moment to savor — often under the starry sky — is a way to savor being alive.
Saying our appreciation or gratitude out loud is a simple way to soak in the goodness a bit more than we would otherwise.
And then … tell someone about it. Tell a friend. Or, as more commonly done these days, share on Instagram or in a text to a loved one. Sharing your moment with someone else only helps you to elevate it that much more.
Soak Up The Future — Ah, sweet, sweet anticipation. One of my strengths is being futuristic so this is, of course, pretty much my go-to way to savor life.
We all should have things that are placed in our future that we are looking forward to. These future events are worth savoring.
For instance, my family and I are going to the beach this weekend. Already I am savoring how it’s going to feel to put my feet in the sand, how it will feel to breathe in the saltwater, how it will feel to relax completely on the beach and do nothing — absolutely nothing — but watch the ebb and flow of the ocean’s beauty.
I’m not even there and I’m already feeling gratitude for the moments ahead. This is savoring.
Savoring A Favorite Moment from the Past — Taking time to truly breathe in a past experience that filled you up with goodness is a beautiful way to savor it and relive it and cherish it.
We can do a similar act of savoring for a moment from our past, as well. We can savor what it felt like to climb a peak of a mountain and to get to the crest and see the lookout and feel amazed at our hard work and what the payoff was. We can relish in the time a friend sent us a note that was so filled with gratitude and kindness that it truly gave us the strength to keep going in our lives.
Savoring is a beautiful way to produce more hope and positivity in our lives and when we finally start to see savoring as an act of soul alignment with the present moment, we are more apt to make time for it in our busy lives.
Join my Rise Stronger in 2021 Challenge to learn more skills around being more resilient. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER