7 Ways to Train Your Brain for Gratitude
I'm sure you're familiar with a gratitude practice. Are you practicing? Do gratitude and goodness flow in your everyday moments?
When you have a health challenge, financial stress or family strife it isn't always easy to focus on the good stuff. Challenges seem to block everything else from view, as if you just focused in with a camera. What if you pull out and focus on the bigger picture?
Right now, whatever is going on in your world, write down five things that are good in your life. Spend a little time there, feel deeply into the gift of receiving the goodness that is yours. Doesn't that feel awesome?
Here's another thing I've discovered… gratitude is a manifestation tool. I know that's a bold statement. It's been an experience that has occurred repeatedly in my own world. When I am focused on all the good in my world it opens the floodgates to more abundance.
When I am feeling good about me and my world, I have access to my creative flow and opportunities come my way more easily. The result is an abundance of ideas (that lead to income) and an abundance of connections (which help me shape and share these ideas). I also receive unexpected abundance in serendipitous ways.
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Aside from the feel good and focus benefits of gratitude, scientific studies have found that people who have a gratitude practice experience more emotional well being and physical health than those who don’t. There are many, many benefits of a gratitude practice.
According to Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, there are also three phases to gratitude:
- Recognize what you're grateful for.
- Acknowledge what you're grateful for.
- Appreciate what you're grateful for.
Simple enough, yes? Here are 7 ways to train your brain for gratitude:
1. Notice What's Nice. Sometimes it may be too big a stretch to find what's good, instead notice what's nice. Take baby steps and find your way into the goodness. Let the avalanche of nice's create a path to gratitude.
2. Compliment Others. Instead of criticism, give positive feedback. No commiserating with one another on “How life sucks!” Notice something good about the other person. It doesn't have to be anything deep either. It could be as simple as “Your hair looks great!” Notice the amount of energy you spend on negative thoughts vs good thoughts. Tilt the scale! (While you're at, notice if the folks you surround yourself with are Negative Nelly's. Shift that too.)
3. Practice Self Gratitude. What are the things about YOU that you're grateful for. Take a moment to close your eyes and give thanks for your amazing body. It's ON 24/7/365! Saturate your cells with love. Give yourself a hug. Take inventory of all your gifts, all the ways in which you are brilliant. Whoa! You are amazing!
4. Turn a Negative Into a Positive. Don't focus on the problem, see the possibility. If it's raining outside don't complain about the weather, notice how it makes you feel calm, peaceful, introspective and go ahead and journal on the rain. Anytime you're about to whine about something, flip the switch, see the gift and sing life's praises.
5. Work Your Gratitude Journal. Don't list the same things over and over. Be specific, go into detail. Write down what's bugging you and then find the invitation in that. Write it down. The more that you practice shifting to a state of gratitude – and seeing how YOU do it – the easier this gratitude game becomes. Journal when you wake up, before you meditate or when you go to bed. Just journal.
6. Pay it forward. If you've been the recipient of an act of kindness make sure to share your kindness in turn. Notice how wonderful it feels to be the recipient of unexpected goodness. It fills you up with love and gratitude. Gift your goodness, honey! There's more where that came from.
7. Support your favorite cause or charity. Give to the causes that mean the most to you. If you're an entrepreneur, support Kiva. If clean water is your passion, support Water.org. If you have a special place in your heart for wildlife, support the Wildlife Conservation Society. No matter what the cause there's an easy way to support it online. (Of course, volunteering is its own special path. If you're moved to give in this fashion go for it!)
Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
~ Melody Beattie
Gratitude gifts you infinite gifts of the spirit – love, kindness, compassion, joy – and it also shifts your orientation from less to more. May you dance in the riches of abundance and gift life with your grace.
PS Ready to gift gratitude?
Image: Ao Abismo Com Carinho, Jeronimo Sanz