Oprah Winfrey said it best, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
We all know it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have, what isn’t working, and what could be better….
According to New York Times best-selling author and neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson, humans are evolutionarily wired with a negativity bias.
This means our minds naturally focus on the bad, discarding the good.
Remember, our ancestors’ survival depended on avoiding threat, rather than seeking reward.
If we know that our tendency is to focus on the negative, what are we going to do about it?
I’ll share a few of my favorite POSITIVITY practices with a focus on GRATITUDE. As we cultivate a GRATITUDE mindset, we are able to appreciate that which we do have, and CELEBRATE what is working.
Positive psychology research tells us gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, cherish good experiences, deal with challenges, and build strong relationships.
So what is GRATITUDE and how do we practice it?
A Harvard Medical Letter states, Gratitude means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.
Gratitude helps people connect to something greater than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle says, “Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.”
Let’s explore our first GRATITUDE practice by focusing on the breath.
Close your eyes, feel your feet on the floor.
Inhale deeply and exhale
inhale deeply and exhale
Inhale deeply and exhale
An article published through The Chopra Centre states this simple practice of focusing on the breath can give you enough time to enter the present moment. This mindfulness allows you to be gratefully aware of your breath, because without it, you wouldn’t be alive.
Entering the present moment allows us to have GRATITUDE for our bodies, the beauty around us, and our meaning connections in life.
Onto our 2nd gratitude practice:
Psychology professor and gratitude researcher, Dr. Emmons at the University of California, Davis, argues gratitude has two key components:
1) we affirm the good things we’ve received, and
2) we also “acknowledge that other people…help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
According to his findings: GRATITUDE JOURNALS are worth keeping.
Willie Nelson affirms this through a valuable life lesson when he said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
Dr. Emmons’ studies found that participants who regularly wrote down what they were grateful for, reported improvements in mood, health, and an overall outlook in life.
Spending a few minutes writing down the highlights from your day can shift you into an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE. Writing in a gratitude journal also improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology.
Take a moment now, what are you GRATEFUL for? It can be anything.
Counting your blessings over your burdens can shift you into an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE. Studies indicate in as little as 8 weeks, changes in the brain patterns lead to greater empathy and happiness.
Our final gratitude practice for today:
Take a moment to reflect on a time when someone offered you acknowledgment. Notice how it made you feel…
As humans, we are evolutionarily-wired to seek approval from others, so receiving another’s acknowledgement increases feelings of connection, according to a study conducted at the University of Illinois on social connectivity. According to a 2014 study published in Emotion, thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
Take a moment now to think about who you could send a quick thank you text or email. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. It could be as simple as thanking the stranger that held the door for you, or simply offering a smile to a stranger you walk past. Sharing this creates ripples of GRATITUDE for you and the receiver.
When we stop to smell the roses, we realize that we have so much to be grateful for.
Tony Robbins reminds us, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
Today I invite you to cultivate an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE. For the next 7 days focus on your breath, count your blessings in a gratitude journal or send a thank you text to a friend… notice how the practice becomes easier with time, and your awareness begins to shift.
I’ll leave you with one last quote, the wise words of Buddha. “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”