Gratitude has been a buzzword in the online space for some time now, but especially around the Thanksgiving Holiday. Unfortunately there are many negative connotations surrounding this word. In its truest form though, gratitude is a practice that we all can benefit from year round!
5 Things Gratitude is NOT
1. Gratitude is not black and white.
Just because you are grateful for one thing doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for another. It’s really not about family vs things vs experiences. You can be grateful for things without remotely implying that they are more important than people.
2. Gratitude is not being content to give up on dreams.
Dreams and gratitude are not mutually exclusive. By wanting something more (and working hard for it) you are not saying you are not grateful for what you have.
In fact the practice of gratitude can propel you forward in your work/dreams. It both motivates you and brings your responsibility towards them to the forefront.
3. Gratitude is not being thankful for awful things.
A cancer diagnosis, natural disaster, death, depression, heartache, national tragedy, or any number of horrible things happen far too often in this life. Sure on the flip side you can see how you have grown throughout them but you don’t ever have to be thankful for that awful thing.
4. Gratitude is not stifling negative emotions.
Gratitude will not feel genuine if it is simply a distraction from the negative emotions caused by events like those mentioned above. Allow yourself to feel those negative emotions, and practice gratitude for the other moments that happen in the midst of them. This will help you stay present in spite of the fact that the world around you is chaotic.
5. Gratitude is not feeling guilty about having more than others.
Guilt simply makes us want to look away from the needs of others, because it is painful. Although pain can be a motivator, a far more effective motivator to share and be generous with others is being genuinely grateful and enjoying what you have, without guilt or shame. This is what propels people to build longer tables and innovate ways to help others have enough too.
How to Practice Gratitude Daily
1. Do more of what makes you come alive.
Think about what makes you feel most alive.
Is it making your little one laugh?
Or when you are doing your work in the world?
Is it when you are reading a book that grows you and stretches you and makes your mind race with answers and more questions.
Or when you move your body with exercise or dance or time outdoors.
When you and your love choose laughter over bickering.
Or is it when everything (hair, makeup, outfit) comes together in alignment with your personal style (this one is SO us!).
What makes you come alive?
2. Be present in those moments that make you come alive.
Those things above, whatever they may be, likely happen often in your life (if they don’t, you know where to start!). But if gratitude is not yet a daily practice for you it is likely that they are often stifled by inner voices of shame.
Making your little one laugh might feel overshadowed by the times you’ve made them cry with your impatience or short temper.
Or you might feel like you should be further in your work in the world at this point in your life.
You might feel like you should be “doing” instead of reading.
Or this one time of movement might not “count” in your mind because of all your lack of consistent movement/exercise.
Maybe you and your love have so much catching up to do before your laughter outweighs your arguments.
And then there are all the voices telling you beauty & style are frivolous/worthless/silly pursuits.
But when we allow ourselves to feel gratitude in that present moment without regard to the shame of the past or fear of the future, that is when we really come alive.
Do you allow yourself to be fully in the present moment?
Let me tell you, feeling alive is addictive. Thankfully there is nothing wrong with going after another hit of gratitude.
3. Take time to reflect on these moments.
Remind yourself of these moments at the beginning and the end of each day. Our minds seek to prove what we think about most, so the more we reflect on these wonderful moments the more our minds will search for similar experiences. Gratitude will quickly become a subconscious habit. (I spoke more about this concept of our thoughts in my Power in Positivity post.)
Do you practice gratitude?
There are so many ways to cultivate this practice in our lives. We’d love to hear your process so please join in the conversation in the comments below!