the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Thanksgiving is upon us, a time where we collectively get together with our friends and family in the spirit of gratitude (and maybe a little glutony). My family wasn’t overtly religious or spiritual but at Thanksgiving dinner everyone made a little more effort to be more reverent. My grandfather would usually read one of his clever poems and we would each take turns going around the table saying what we were grateful for. Like every family, we had our fair share of dysfunction running through it. But, at least in those few moments, we were united in our intention to find something to be grateful for and it set the tone for the rest of the day.
Doesn’t it feel good when someone appreciates you? Isn’t it more fun to give to an appreciative person? We live in an attraction-based world and when we practice the feeling tone of gratitude on a consistent basis, the universe gives us more to be grateful for. When you develop a practice of gratitude not only do you look better and feel better, but everyone around you will benefit too. You will become a magnet for opportunity and wonderful miracles in your life. But let’s face it…
Sometimes being grateful is hard!!!
It’s easy to look around when things are going our way and feel grateful. But, what about when life throws us a curve ball and our gratitude falls out the window? The real practice of gratitude comes when we practice it REGARDLESS of circumstances and conditions. Not always easy right? Here are a few tips, tricks, and back door techniques to help you during the times where you are feeling gratitude challenged.
1. Practice thanks in advance
This is my favorite go to when I am in the midst of what seems like and unsolvable or overwhelming situation. Remember that thing that happened that seemed so bad at the time but you later realized it was a blessing in disguise? All of our challenges are just that. Behind the appearance of adversity is a gem just waiting to be discovered. When we give thanks in advance it’s like taking the fast track to the treasure that awaits. We can surrender the problem and make a space in our mind for our higher wisdom to come through. Think of your problem and try saying out loud something like this: “Thank you (God/Universe/Higher Self etc…) in advance for the most peaceful and joyous outcome for this situation for myself and for all concerned.” Repeat it every time you are tempted to worry about your issue until you convince yourself that this is true. When we cultivate the attitude that everything is for us and nothing against us, we can begin to see our challenges as opportunities and even feel grateful for them!
2. Recall a gratitude memory
Can you remember a time when you felt incredibly grateful? Close your eyes and take a few moments to recall this experience in vivid detail. What were you wearing? How did you feel? Who was there? What did you hear, taste, touch etc? Make it as real as possible and sit in that experience for a few moments. You have access to this state anytime you need it. Just 5 minutes a day can create amazing positive changes in your life and shift your perspective when you need a little gratitude fine tuning.
3. Play the “I like it” game
Hypnosis Motivation Institute’s founder Dr. Kappas would give this exercise to his chronically negative thinking clients and he found that when they practiced consistently their attitudes shifted. It goes like this: All day long, everywhere you look, silently say to yourself “I like it”, or “I like that”, etc. You can use the word love if that feels better or just say thank you. The more mundane the object of your attention the better it is. Look at the sky “I like it”. Look at your dog “I like it”, look at your dinner “I like it”, look at that tree “I like it” you get the idea. Don’t over think it, just say it. Repetition is key. This is a mind training game to trick yourself into feeling more gratitude when you feel stuck in a funk.
4. Keep a bedtime gratitude journal
Every night, before you go to sleep, make a list of what happened that day that you are grateful for. This teaches your subconscious mind to look for the good. When we have the intention to look for the good we will find it. The truth is, even on our worst days there are still good things happening if we look for it. The 30 minute window before going to sleep at night is when our mind is most receptive. Make your list before going to sleep and you bring it into your dream state where the subconscious mind makes it a part of your new life script. In other words, this is an easy way to rewire our old negative programming. Want to turbo charge it? See number 5.
5. Focus on the why
You can add this to your gratitude journal or use it any time during the day when you want to deepen your gratitude state. Claim what you are grateful for and WHY you are grateful for it. It can go something like this: “I’m so grateful for the phone conversation with my dad today, because he always cheers me up, because he’s so encouraging of my pursuits, because I feel so lucky to have such a supportive father in my life, etc, etc” Focusing on the why really helps us bring into clear view our many blessings and sends an even more powerful signal out to the universe of what we would like to continue receiving.
When all else fails remember this…
Let it go and stop trying to be grateful.
Unconditional gratitude is a practice and takes time to cultivate. This is not about self-denial, glazing over our difficult feelings, or pretending to be happy when we are not. Don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t find a way to be grateful for your situation in the moment. Let yourself feel whatever is there to feel. Just come back to your gratitude practice when you can and as often as you can. Don’t force it. Sometimes you just need to be grumpy, and that’s ok too.
With lots of love and GRATITUDE!