Has anyone ever told you that what you focus on, grows? That what you appreciate, appreciates? Well, it’s true. It’s one of the main reasons why a gratitude practice is so important for a joyful life!
It’s way too easy to look around at all the aspects of our lives that need fixing and overlook everything that’s already going well. But when we develop a habit of overlooking the good to focus on the bad (or not good enough), we tend to only cause more discontent and more negative experiences to complain about. When we focus on the positive and cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we feel better and invite more experiences that match our happy feelings.
I’ve noticed a distinct shift in my quality of life when I compare the times that I have prioritized my gratitude practice and times when I got lazy. Recently, I’ve picked it back up after one too many inexplicable emotional spirals prompted me to remember it as a happiness and overall satisfaction tool.
You can incorporate a gratitude practice into your mornings after you wake up, at night before going to sleep, or both. You could do it anytime during the day really. (Hey! Go ahead and turn your life into a gratitude practice – there’s no negative side effects.)
I personally like to do my practice at night before bed. I get all cozy under the sheets with my “relaxxxx” spotify playlist on real low and get my pen and gratitude journal ready. It helps me end the day on a high note regardless of how I may have been feeling before bed.
The cool thing is that no matter how bad of a day you had, there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for (i.e. your bed, your phone playing that cozy music you love, your health, the sun, your favorite tea that you recently discovered, I could go ON about commonly overlooked things to be grateful for). Thinking of the joy in your life (the “goods”) is a great perspective shifter. And even if you had an amazing day, it helps you bask in the good feels all over again.
Remember: Amplifying the good yields more good. We can become so prone to harping on negative events and things that we want to change that it really takes a gratitude practice to re-balance our minds to a normal level.
I have recently developed a gratitude 2.0 practice before bed. In addition to listing things that happened during the day that brought me joy, I’ll also write out intentions and things that I love about myself.
I hop in bed with my journal and pen in hand and divide the section for that particular day into 3. Over the big section on the left I write “Grateful” then on the right I write “Intend” and “Love About Me.”
I have recently become such a big fan of the idea of intending. While going about a spiritual practice, it’s easy to fall into the idea that the divine will lead you where you need to go. Which, don’t get my wrong, I still believe in surrender and being divinely guided, but I find that setting an intention at the outset helps to aid that process. I’ll intend how I want to feel and how I want to approach my day, depending on whatever I have planned, and I find that having that clear intention at the outset gives me a sense of peace.
It’s like I know what I’m trying to get out of the day ahead, in advance. Before waiting to see what happens, I’m already intending what I expect to happen. It’s like setting forth positive expectations for each day. I like to think that as I sleep, my subconscious is working on programming me into behaving the way I’ve intended in my journal.
The “Love about me” section was added just last week as a good friend of mine recommended that I start building my self-esteem by cheering myself on for small things (a suggestion she got from her awesome therapist). I don’t think of cheering myself on in the moment as often as I’d like. As the product of an immigrant household, praise was reserved for special occasions like winning a contest or graduating. Outside of that, all the A’s on my report card and general respectful behavior was just seen as expected. The idea of cheering myself on for something as small as making myself breakfast is still a foreign concept but it’s a muscle I’m growing!
I really appreciate the self-love challenge of writing down things that I love about myself every night and I’m trying to make sure I don’t get repetitive. For a peak inside my intimate journal, my most recent entry lists: I let myself sleep later than normal (this was the earthquake night!), I put into practice some behaviors of my ideal self, I did yoga!, I was kind to strangers, I reached out to friends and family, I got myself a croissant (PMS cravings are real), I gave advice!
I hope you incorporate a gratitude practice into your life somehow. It could be just the thing you need to become more positive and joyful. Sometimes to tap into satisfaction and peace we don’t need to change anything at all, we just need to take inventory of all the great things that are already around us. And when we do that, the good will grow.