Cultivate a conscious gratitude practice to rewire your brain for joy.
The more you are in a state of gratitude the more you will attract things to be grateful for. When the energy of gratitude is fully embodied, you never need more than what you have at any given moment. You realize that everything you have within is all you need for joy and manifestation.
Don’t take what you’re grateful for for granted, because you honestly never know what will happen next. What you have will eventually be what you had. Life changes every single day. Letting go of control multiplies the potential for gratitude. Sometimes we put too much weight into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives that we completely miss the forest for the trees.
One of the greatest laws of manifestation can be the simple art of letting go.
Learn to let go, relax a bit, and ride the path that life takes you sometimes. Try something new, be fearless, be above your story, do your best and be ok with it. Clearing yourself of needless expectations lets you truly experience (and receive!) the unexpected.
Let’s be honest. It can be hard during a year like 2020 to practice gratitude. However, with all the unprecedented change, there’s an invitation to embrace mystery and take little for granted. Little steps toward being more grateful can make the world of difference. While our world may contain vivid traces of separation and division, gratefulness reminds us that we are all deeply interconnected. And no matter how small, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
By consciously practicing gratitude everyday, we can help our neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a more grateful and optimistic nature.
There are numerous scientific studies on the proven effects of practicing gratitude. Like this study of 300 adults, mostly college students who were struggling with depression and anxiety were randomly placed into three groups. Although all three groups received counseling services, the first group was also instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks, whereas the second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group did not do any writing activity.
What did they find?
Compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. And that’s just one of many studies.
When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for experiencing an elevated emotional state.
Besides enhancing self-love and empathy, gratitude has been shown to significantly impact body functions, mitigating and effectively reducing psychological conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.
Need more proof? Oprah Winfrey names her gratitude practice as the single most important catalyst for her success! "Focusing on one thing that you are grateful for increases the energy of gratitude and rises the joy inside yourself," Winfrey said on Oprah's Life Class.
Other scientific studies suggest that gratitude can improve our sleep, enhance romantic relationships, protect us from illness, motivate us to exercise, and boost our overall happiness. Isn’t this what life is all about?
13 FUN WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDEFrom a warm bath, a smile from a passing stranger, or a fresh home cooked meal - it is a privilege to recognize the abundance that surrounds us. When we slow down and connect with the present moment, we’re able to truly experience the miracles, cultivating a garden of gratitude.
1. Establish a Heart-Mind Connection. The ancients believed that wisdom resided in the heart. In the yogic philosophy, the heart chakra is where we feel connected to everything and everyone. Loneliness breeds an ungrateful heart, but if we practice making a connection between our heart and mind, we can eventually become more loving and grateful.
The HeartMath Institute, founded in 1991 by researchers, scientists, and engineers who wanted to explore the mysteries of the human heart, confirmed what our ancestors knew all along; that the heart has its own unique intelligence, and that we have the ability to synchronize our hearts and brains into a coherent state.
2. Try a Gratitude Tea Ceremony. Heart-brain coherence brings many benefits including clearer thinking, improved memory, emotional resilience, and a sense of well-being. And tea, well … it warms our heart.
3. Here is the HeartMath Quick Coherence Technique you can do with a cup of tea:
- Bring your attention to your chest and the physical heart while counting inhalation and exhalation to five seconds in, five seconds out.
- Imagine your breath flowing in and out of the heart.
- Invoke a sense of appreciation by considering someone or something you love, be it a family member, friend, a place, or pet. The website says, “Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life.”
While letting your tea steep, try this practice for a few minutes and feel the difference. You’re entering a state of optimal heart-brain coherence.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal and Add to it Everyday. The truth is we are all divine, creative beings. When we connect with our capacity to appreciate the simple goodness of life - the magic in our life becomes magnified. Writing down our thoughts, feelings and dreams is a powerful practice that strengthens our gratitude ‘muscle.’
5. Tell Someone How Much you Appreciate Them. Sometimes we forget to tell the people we love the most, how much we appreciate them. And it matters. If someone doesn’t feel appreciated, it can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration and insecurity. If we desire to be generous in spirit, we can give loved ones the gift of knowing how much they mean to us. Just a simple compliment can make a world of difference and make someone feel truly appreciated.
6. Embrace ALL of your Emotions. We’ll admit, it ain’t easy to feel some of the turbulence going on inside. However, if we slowly start to practice experiencing all emotions that arise with compassion, curiosity and acceptance we can become better caretakers of our inner world. Our breath can be an amazing vehicle of alchemy - helping us to connect mindfully to all that arises in our mind and body.
7. Revisit Precious Memories. Reflect upon your most treasured memories in life however large or small. Write each of these sacred memories on a small piece of paper placing them in a special container that you can revisit often. Feel gratitude within your heart that you were able to experience these moments.
8. Notice the Beauty in Nature Each Day. When we learn to reawaken to the infinite beauty that Mother Earth provides us, we’re able to live in a constant state of amazement. Whether it’s watching the sunset or going for a walk in the fresh air - spending time in nature allows us to connect to the wild and mystical parts within. Being disconnected from nature can cause depression and sadness. Bottom line, get into nature!
9. Volunteer for an Organization to Help Others. Each day we have a choice about the kind of difference we get to make in the world around us. Being a light for those in need can occur when we set aside time to volunteer for a mission that is near and dear to our hearts. The greatest part about volunteering is not just how others benefit, but how it makes us feel inside about ourselves. It also boosts our moral and self-esteem.
10. Cook a Meal with Love. We all have heard the saying “you are what you eat.” This adage has a special significance when we take the time to prepare a home cooked meal with compassion, gratitude and love. The intention and love we put into our food makes a difference. Every cell and fiber of our being will be gratefully nourished.
11. Write a Card to Someone You Haven’t Seen in a While. In a year when our ability to gather with loved ones has been limited, the power of reaching out with a phone call, an email or card is profoundly powerful. If someone enters your awareness, don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with them. You never know how much your thoughtfulness will mean to them.
12. Share Gratitude each day by posting a tweet, Facebook post or Pinterest. Social media has the ability to unite or divide us. By sharing an inspiring message or quote, you can create a wellspring of hope and a ripple effect of positivity. It might just be exactly what even just one person needed to hear that day.
13. Include an Act of Kindness in Your Life Each Day. Wealth consists not in having numerous possessions but in connecting with the abundance that flows from our hearts. By setting the intention of practicing one simple act of kindness each day we can magnify our blessings for ourselves and those around us. Added bonus: kindness spreads like wildfire. :)
Pick out your favorite practices from the list above or create your own! No matter what your method of giving thanks is, the neurological effects that gratitude has on us is undeniable. Write to us on IG and share your favorite gratitude practice.