If you can consciously choose only one emotion each day, make that emotion gratitude. Gratitude is such a unique and important practice that has the ability to shape our experiences for the better.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “grateful” as
1a. Appreciative of benefits received
2a. Affording pleasure or contentment
2b. Pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated
Just take a quick look at the words in that definition: appreciative, pleasure, contentment, comfort. If you could choose to feel these things each day, would you?
Well, I’ve got news for you! Gratitude can be an active choice. At any moment during your day, you can decide to switch your mind into the direction of gratitude.
Just start by thinking of one thing you are grateful for, no matter how big or small. Having trouble thinking of something? How about the fact that you are living and breathing? That you have an opposable thumb? Maybe you’re grateful that you had food to eat today or that you’re able to walk. Choose something…anything…that you can latch on to.
“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”Henry Ward Beecher.
It’s not just enough to choose something and announce that you’re grateful for it. The next step is to truly FEEL that gratitude. Take some time to sit in meditation, thinking about whatever it is that you are grateful for. Then, really feel into it. How does your body react? How about your heart rate? Do you feel your emotions change?
For example, a quick way that I access this feeling of gratitude is by imagining the most perfect weather. What does this look like to you? Do you like sunny with a breeze? Or maybe a thunderstorm with rain tapping on the windowpane? For me, this is the most gorgeous sunny day. While I feel the gratitude for this weather, I feel the sun shining on my face. I feel a slight breeze flowing through my hair. The feeling in my body is instant relaxation. The feeling in my heart is a welling of joy.
After you spend some time sitting with yourself in gratitude, you will notice your whole mood begin to shift. It is impossible to feel any fear-based emotions while in process of feeling gratitude. Whenever you find yourself slipping into anxiety or anger, sadness or frustration, take a moment to connect with gratitude. The expression “there’s always something to be grateful for” isn’t just an expression…it’s rooted in truth. Whether you choose the seemingly smallest thing, maybe the fact that you’re breathing right now, or something super specific to you, a job or a friend or your favorite pair of socks, you would be hard pressed to find absolutely nothing.
Introducing a gratitude practice into your life daily can have life-changing effects. Start a gratitude journal where every morning, or every night, you take some conscious time to feel this gratitude. When you begin to feel fear-based emotions, take a quick break to sit in meditation, reflecting on what you’re grateful for. However you choose to bring this practice into your life, I am confident that you will see some amazing changes.