Gratitude has an astonishingly close connection to joy, happiness, and how “satisfied” you rate yourself in life: basically, the more gratitude you feel, the more joyful, happy, and satisfied you are. The less gratitude you feel, the less joyful, happy, and satisfied you are. Simple, right?
But what most people don’t realize is that how much gratitude you experience isn’t a random fluke, or a response to how great your life is.
Gratitude is a habit; it’s a skill.
And it absolutely can (and must!) be cultivated and practiced if you want a joyful, happy, satisfied life. It’s one thing to say “you should practice gratitude!” but it’s another thing entirely to tell you how, and what that means. To that end, I want to share a little bit with you about how I teach gratitude to myself.
An excerpted lesson on Gratitude:
The important thing to remember when working on cultivating gratitude is that there is a huge difference between knowing you should be grateful, and actually feeling gratitude. If you find yourself approaching gratitude from a place of logic, remember that gratitude is an emotion, not a thought.
A lot of times we put pressure on ourselves to feel grateful for things, because we know we “should” be grateful, but this actually pushes us further away from the emotion, rather than bringing us closer to it. Think about the phrase “there are children starving in Africa,” which is anecdotally used to make a lot of children eat and appreciate their dinner. Has that phrase ever made a child more grateful for the food they have? Probably not. More likely, it just makes them feel guilty, ashamed, and bitter.
It’s way too much pressure to think you “should” feel grateful for something, and it makes the whole exploration of gratitude too cerebral. I encourage you to throw away the idea that you “should” be grateful for anything, and instead explore gratitude from a place of curiosity and authenticity.
There is no right or wrong way to feel gratitude, but in order to invite more gratitude into your life, you can (and must!) consciously get to know what it feels like when it shows up for you.
The better you get to know this emotion, the more easily you’ll be able to tap into gratitude so that you can feel it more often, more intensely, and for longer periods of time.
The questions to ask yourself and action step required for Gratitude:
For the next few weeks, any time you feel grateful I want you to tune into the physical sensation, ask yourself what you’re really feeling, and get to know your personal sensations of gratitude. Having a deeply nuanced and clear understanding of what gratitude actually feels like for you is crucial if you want to work toward cultivating more. Bear in mind that gratitude, like every emotion, will feel different from person to person, but gratitude will always feel the same for you.
How to welcome Gratitude today:
Sit quietly and close your eyes. Think of a time you felt truly grateful, or think of something that makes you feel truly grateful right now. Sit with your gratitude, and feel it in your body. See if you can expand the sensation by focusing on it and letting it spread, or get bigger. Then open your eyes, and write down specifically where in your body you feel gratitude. Then, using specific and vivid language, describe exactly what “gratitude” feels like for you, both physically and metaphysically.
Allow your imagination to get involved here. Is gratitude warm or cold for you? Light or dark? What color is it? What texture is it? Does it have a sound, or a flavor, or a scent? Does it move, or does it stay still? Be as specific and detailed as possible in describing what gratitude feels like for you.
Sending you so much love and gratitude,