Learn how I completely shifted my mindset from one of anxiety, worry, and self-doubt to one of gratitude, positivity, and self-love. Beginning a regular gratitude practice is so important in becoming a better version of yourself no matter where you are in life.
Why is gratitude so important?
As we go about our busy days, it’s easy to miss the little things. It’s easy to take the beauty in our life for granted (which is why there are so many cliche sayings about it — ‘cause it’s so true!). We get caught up in To-Do lists, commutes, figuring out what to eat for dinner, thinking about what we should have done yesterday but didn’t…the list goes on. I am super guilty of this, and on top of that, as I mentioned in my last post, my mind naturally tends to focus on what’s not going well in my life.
A lot of research points to this phenomenon – we focus on the negative much more easily than we do the positive. If we get ten positive comments, we focus on the one negative one. In relationships, I’ve read that it’s important to tell someone five positive things about them for every one criticism. As humans, we’re hard-wired to focus on what’s wrong with us or our lives.
How to make gratitude a regular practice
Enter gratitude. Though I’m still working on this daily, I’ve learned how to focus more on all the amazing things I DO have rather than all the things I don’t. Gratitude has become a close personal friend who I can turn to in times of need. I can call on her when I’m stressed, anxious, or angry. It’s a relationship that’s at times rocky, like any relationship is, but I’ve found that the more work I put into it, the more I receive from it. And I can tell that my brain’s wiring has noticeably shifted.
I started this relationship with gratitude through journaling. I love journaling because it’s intentional, it’s doable as a quick daily practice, and it’s reflective. Remember when I said we all get so caught up in our busy day-to-day lives? Journaling is a way to make sure we pause and reflect on what’s really important.
I started my gratitude journal two years ago as a daily practice when I was going through a tough period in my life. Even on my worst days, I would force myself to write something down. And you know what? I always found things to be grateful for each day. Most days, I would end up writing way more than I thought I would. I was grateful for small things like coffee (duh), great chats with friends, being able to sleep in, and for larger things like getting engaged to an incredibly amazing man (yay!) and graduating with my Master’s degree.
What I noticed when I started writing down what I was grateful for regularly was that I became much more aware of all the positives in my life, big and small, and I would constantly be making mental notes to write them in my journal later. Over time it became more natural for me to look for the positive, and my outlook began to shift. When I was faced with challenges, I was able to face them with more grit and grace because I could easily call on gratitude to help me shift my negative thinking. We are all so lucky in so many ways, and by being intentional in reminding ourselves of that, we are able to shift our mindset for the better.
How do you practice gratitude?