How can we be happy everyday? You know them- those people that always have a smile on their face and find the glass full in everything!
"It is usually taught or passed down to us through our parents and families and is as commonplace and unacknowledged.- the ability to feel and express gratitude. While we may think this is simply polite behavior, studies have found that gratitude goes far, far deeper and has an incredible impact on the way we feel and perceive our world. Feeling and expressing gratitude has been found to allow people to experience more optimism, joy, enthusiasm and other positive emotions. It does this through lowering levels of cortisol (stress hormone), increasing positive relationships and reducing instances of anxiety and depression." ( LAURENTINE TEN BOSCH food matters.com)
It is days like today where it is freezing cold and ice (for the first time in over 10 years in my home town of Houston, Texas) that its hard to be happy, to practice grace and to find the ease and presence in all things.
What exactly is gratitude?
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton
Here are some easy ways to keep you centered and practice gratitude on days when you feel stuck, your mind is racing, your bored and lazy, or you want to hide in the closet away from your family!
- Keep a journal: record a few things for which you’re grateful every day or week. Routinely writing in your gratitude journal will help you realize there is more and more to be grateful for each day, week and month. You will also have the benefit of looking back over previous notes and sensing just how lovely your life is and can be.
- Keep a positive jar: A cute twist; see this as a bank you can continuously contribute to of lovely reminders that things aren’t always so bad! Use special note paper or a particular ink pen to create special notes for yourself.
- Write positive affirmations: write affirmations on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator or coffee pot. Any place that you will see it first thing in the morning after you wake up. Simply short sayings such as, "you can do this", "you are stronger then you think", "you are beautiful in everyday" will help you see the beauty in yourself and in all things.
- Gratitude letter: Write a letter to someone else thanking them for something that you really valued or thanking them for just being them. See it as a pass-it-forward activity in gratitude!
- Meditation and yoga: Meditating or engaging in yoga are two ways in which we settle our own minds and bodies, reminding ourselves of our inherent worth and capability and being thankful for the ability to think and be present in the world. Thank your body from head to toe, focusing on each joint, muscle,skin and bones.
- Imagine your life without: Sometimes we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. To appreciate more people and parts of your life, imagine your life without something you may take for granted and you may find greater joy and appreciation of your everyday. You can even go a step further and take a break from something that is giving you less joy than it used to; this can help you renew your ability to see its value.
- Simply say thanks: Say it out of the blue and really mean it. Send a text, make a phone call, knock on the door, pop your head around the office divider...think about and acknowledge how people can go out of their way to be helpful and kind.
- Savor meals: Before and during eating, consider where the food on your plate has come from and how fortunate you are to be able to nourish yourself and others. Think about how your body will absorb vitamins and minerals to keep you alive and healthy.
- Be mindful in the mundane: gratitude can and is best practiced in mundane everyday tasks. Take a moment to thank the people that you work with or serve you throughout the day.
- Notice your environment: The weather, the grass, the trees, strangers on the street, stillness in the air...It may surprise you how focusing briefly on what’s around you can make you feel a sense of appreciation and joy.
- Breathe: Another meditative practice but one that is also incredibly powerful, notice your breath and the sheer brilliance of the body’s ability to keep you alive.
- Donate: There are numerous causes that align with your personal values and charities working hard to impact social change. Express your gratitude and support by donating to a group or charity that you feel passionate about.
I hope you take these tips and use them daily to realign yourself with what is important and what is valuable to you.