How to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice
With all that has been going on recently with COVID19 and quarantine, we felt it was a great time to revisit the concept of integrating a daily gratitude practice. This can be such a powerful tool, especially for family caregivers. Even though we may think, "well yeah, I'm grateful," having a daily ritual where you take time to be intentional and pause to focus on only gratitude can truly transform the way you think about your day.
Starting, the most important thing to remember is that being grateful is not about ignoring negative feelings or realities. Rather, it is about SHIFTING your focus from the negative to the positive. Think about your brain's focus as a flashlight; there are two piles: one with all the good that has happened today and one with all the unfortunate, frustrating, and upsetting. That bad pile isn't going away…but gratitude helps you shine that light on the pile of good and change your perspective.
Now, when we refer to a gratitude practice, it's just a fancy way of saying a daily habit of being grateful. Anytime you make a change, physical or mental, you need to put routines in place to hold yourself to it. Just like going to the gym is a daily practice to get fit, a daily practice of being grateful will re-wire the way your brain looks at the world in a more positive way.
Having a daily gratitude practice can help you create a habit of simply noticing good things that happen in your day-to-day life…both big and small. It also focuses on the things you DO have and positive things that ARE in your life. This is the beginning of training your brain to become more naturally optimistic.
So now, HOW do we implement this daily gratitude practice? If it were easy, we wouldn't have to do a blog post on it! Let's go through some ideas:
1. As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, lay in bed and think of 3 things you're grateful for. Sounds super simple, right? Well, it is the first few days when we go through the old standbys: kids, roof over our head, a significant other, maybe your health, but it's around day 5 or 6 that we will start to have to LOOK for new things to be grateful for. It's here that the big breakthroughs start, and the re-wiring happens. You will begin to notice the little things in your day that you can use in your morning gratitude practice. That shift of mindset is what makes this so powerful.
2. Start a Gratitude Journal. This can be as easy as numbering 1, 2, 3 at the bottom of your daily planner, or you can start a notebook designated to your gratitude practice. The same routine above applies, but this takes it up a notch as you are writing it down. This allows you to have a working list of all your blessings. This record can be referenced at any time and will be especially helpful during times of extreme stress and fatigue.
3. Create a Gratitude Jar. This is a great practice to do together with a loved one. You will need a clear empty jar, scraps of paper, and a pen. Once a day, or whenever the moment hits you, write down on a piece of paper one thing you are grateful for. Put it in the jar, and have your partner do the same. You will begin to visualize all the things you are thankful for because the scraps of paper will accumulate fast! Even better, you can dump out the jar on a day you need a boost or maybe at the end of every month and review with your loved one.
We hope this inspires you to create a gratitude practice of your own. Remember, it's so important that you make this ritual your own. The time of day, location, and routine will all be unique to you. Let it morph and evolve as you become more comfortable with it.
At Sunways, we're grateful for YOU and our community of caregivers who are sharing their heart daily with the ones they love.
- TAGS: Enabling to Engaging, Issues to Aspirations, Outputs to Outcomes
- CATEGORIES: Community Support and Health Services