I’ve been practicing gratitude for awhile now and I like to think that I’ve gained something from the experience; I know I have. Normally this “practice” is reserved for when I do yoga or go on one of my meditation walks, but I’ve found it really doesn’t need to be this formal. Today I want to share with you a means of practicing gratitude that when consistently practiced leads to greater awareness of the abundance in our lives, as well as increasing happiness and who couldn’t use a little increased happiness on a Monday morning eh? 🙂
One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is think of the things I’m thankful for. I do this right when I wake up even before I get out of bed. It could be the big-ticket items, like health and the material abundance I’m blessed with, but often it’s something small like the pillow my head rests on or the warm bed I find myself in. This has worked wonders for quieting the numerous thoughts that normally fill my head when I first wake up. You know what I’m talking about. There are the immediate needs of getting everyone up and off to work or school on time, what am I going to wear? How’s traffic going to be this morning? Is it raining out? Is it cold out? Did I feed the dog? Shit, did I turn off the stove? I need to do laundry tonight? Do the kids have practice tonight or tomorrow? What am I going to cook for dinner? Why did so and so say such and such yesterday? It was kind of rude. Any of this sound familiar? Our thoughts have the ability of running wild if we let them, but are also readily tamed if we work with them. Focusing on what you’re thankful for is a great way of getting your thoughts under control while simultaneously increasing gratitude.
It’s not enough just to think of these things, but you have to imagine life without them and I mean truly imagine. It’s easy to let the logical side of ourselves do this exercise and respond with a trite expression of, “Yeah that would suck if I didn’t have that in my life.” Where is the passion? Where is the feeling? I want you to really imagine with your heart, not your mind, what life would be like without those items you are thankful for. Step away from the nice tidy list your mind made for you and feel what being without would be like. Thankful for that warm bed you woke up in? Then imagine with every ounce of your soul what it would be like to sleep on the hard ground and to have the earth suck the warmth right out of your body. Gives a different perspective, eh? Feeling is far different from knowing and feeling what it is like to be without something goes a long way in appreciating that something.
For me this little habit has allowed me to focus my thoughts and increase my gratefulness significantly. Give it shot. I’d be interested to hear how it works in your life.