How to develop a gratitude practice

With Thanksgiving only one day away, it’s a great reminder to start thinking about what we are grateful for. Your family or friends may start casually asking you; “What are you grateful for?” in honor of the festivities but it may take you a beat to actually think of something. Sure, we are grateful for the time off and the Thanksgiving feast but what about how we are everyday. When we are living in our day to day we may or may not notice the opportunities to express mindfulness and gratitude. After all there is so much to be grateful for that it doesn’t need to be reserved for just one day out of the year. Here are some steps to developing a gratitude practice:

1 - Express gratitude out loud. The act of speaking “Thank you Universe for….” can be the best mood shifter even in the most foul of moods. For example, if you are feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep and are allowing that factor to ruin other aspects of your day, stop and tell yourself how grateful you are that your body is communicating to you. It is simple but our bodies work really hard for us everyday, otherwise we would be dead. Feed your mind with thoughts of love for yourself and your ability to overcome the lack of sleep and how much you will appreciate the opportunity to sleep later. Fake it if you have to because you can really fake it till you make it in these scenarios. I do this every time my skin seems to have an imbalance. If I’m breaking out, dehydrated, sensitized or anything else, I tell myself how grateful I am that my skin is working overtime to heal itself and communicate with me what is going on. I tune in and shift my actions accordingly. I wash my face with love and openly express out loud my gratitude for myself. 

2 - Accept your challenges as an opportunity. Over the last year I have felt challenged in my personal and professional life as well as experiencing some pretty heavy existential anxiety (Thank you election 2016). It’s really easy to not take the time to check in with yourself when it feels like your life is a revolving door of issues and set backs. The truth is that you will not face anything that you can’t handle or you won’t learn from. At points this year I just had to openly express that I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn from some hard experiences but I was grateful to know that I would eventually. You can choose to rise above and feel your way to a stronger place or you can let your challenges eat you up. The phrase “What you resist, persists” reigns true in this case as well. If you don’t express gratitude for opportunities for growth than you will continuously be met with the same challenges. The universe just wants to make sure you have all the opportunity to learn what you need to learn before moving on. So if it feels like you are in an endless circle of the same issues, stop and say thank you. Once you shift you may see the lesson in it all. 

3 - Have gratitude for others. This one seems simple, of course we are grateful for the ones we love but what about the people who we don’t get along with or even people we don’t know. Part of my existential anxiety is related to the fact that everything we have is created by someone else, whether it is done in an ethical manner or not. Expressing gratitude for the farmers who dedicate their lives to providing us food can really help you enjoy the food that much more. This can also help you shift your mindset to understanding how the world works a little more. This type of knowledge can really help us see what areas may need improvement and how we can help. After each facial, I thank my client for showing up for me and for trusting me to help them. This simple out loud exchange is not only a day maker for some clients who may be feeling down or stressed but it’s also a reminder for myself that I wouldn’t be able to do what I love without you. My dreams have come true because of my clients, so even though I may be tired or overwhelmed with other responsibilities, I am always grateful for my clients. Our times together are my favorite times and though they sometimes may be challenging, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. 

So remember to start with yourself - what are you grateful for about yourself? After all you are the only one who can control you. The world is going to keep moving at rapid speed so if you have a gratitude practice for yourself, you can then start to see all the wonderful things to be grateful for outside of yourself. The world will always be a majestic place, and once you start shifting your mind set to that you may be more inclined to actively work to keep it that way. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I hope you know by now how grateful I am for you. xo

Hayley WoodComment