Thursday, August 2, 2012

5 simple ways to practice gratitude

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” –Dalai Lama

I wanted to follow-up on my previous post by offering some simple ways to practice gratitude. Let’s face it, life offers challenges. Sometimes, too close together. Practicing gratitude helps me maintain perspective in the midst of challenges. This simple practice helps me keep a positive attitude which, in turn, helps me address whatever challenges I may be encountering.

  1. Keep a gratitude list. My list always begins with a roof over my head, my good health, my children, their good health, work colleagues I enjoy, my parents, siblings and friends. And that is just the beginning. See? It’s working already. My sister always includes coffee on her list. Anything is open for consideration. And I find that once I start, I begin to look at things in new ways. “A washer and dryer! I have a washer and dryer! In my house. Isn’t that amazing?” You get the idea, and this really works. Who has time to whine when one has a machine to do the dishes?
  2. Breathe deeply in this moment. Really. Take that deep breath and look around. Notice your surroundings. When I take a moment to do this I am struck by where I am. It goes like this: breathe in, notice patio. Realize I have a patio to enjoy. Enjoy it.
  3. Eat mindfully. How often do we race through our meals, another task to be accomplished in our busy life? I am so guilty of this one, often eating in front of the computer while I work or in front of the television to catch a little news. How very different my meals are when I sit down at the table and notice the smells and colors on the plate. When I take the time to savor each bite, I notice the taste and textures of what I am eating. Then I am grateful, not only for the nourishment, but also for the beauty of the arugula leaf or the vibrancy of the blueberry.
  4. Take a walk outside. This is a fast way to shed anxiety and worry. Look around and mindfully notice what is around you. See the plants, trees, and flowers. I so enjoy a stroll through my neighborhood, in part because of the self-expression found in other’s yards. People take such pride in their homes. I also find that the simple act of moving brings gratitude for this body and the ability to walk around on this earth.
  5. Make a list of all the people who have helped you. My list begins with my parents and goes on from there. The thing about this list is that I never get to the end. There is always someone else to include. I can add several people just from the day I had yesterday. And some people deserve to be listed repeatedly. Like my parents. And there you go: the endless list of people who care enough to help. If that isn’t love in this world, I don’t know what is. And for that, I am grateful.

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