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Practicing Gratitude

If there’s a quick-fix antidote to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or off center, it is surely the practice of gratitude.

Feeling grateful requires a return to presence, awareness, and an expansive heart. Filling up on gratitude is incompatible with feelings of irritation. When we connect with what we appreciate in our daily lives, we are both humbled and empowered. As Arianna Huffington observed: “When we recognize the sacred in the mundane, we allow gratitude to enter our lives. Gratitude has always been for me one of the most powerful and least practiced emotions. Living in a state of gratitude is living in a state of grace.”

We know in our hearts that this is true, and yet it’s so easy to drift away from the simple magic of practicing gratitude. One way to incorporate gratitude into daily life is the wonderful practice of keeping a gratitude journal: taking a few moments each evening to make note of the day’s beauty. This can be as simple as a numbered list of half-a dozen words, or a full-on journal entry.

“Music and art both spring from a grateful heart.”
~Katie Wood McCloy

If you have a smartphone, you might want to browse in the app store for one of the many excellent gratitude apps. “Gratitude Journal” for the iPhone is one of my favorites; you can even choose a photo to highlight each day.

Another option it to take some time each morning to focus on what you’re grateful for. You might even consider incorporating gratitude into intention journaling. A mindful expression of gratitude is a wonderful companion to planning the logistic elements of what needs to be accomplished in the coming day. You may find that this practice is as energizing as that extra cup of coffee, but without the jitters. Try it and see what you think!

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

What works for you?

This piece was reprinted from the last issue of the Creative Times, our monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. So agree! This summer, my young son and I were headed into a living situation for the summer that I knew would be very stressful for me. I mentioned to him that I needed a strategy to help me stay positive and not spend the summer frustrated. He suggested gratitude!

    I realized immediately that he was right, followed his advice and it worked beautifully. Any time I started to get a little freaky, I stopped and noticed all the things that were going right and that I was grateful for. It kind of popped the ugly balloon of negativity that was started to float around. 🙂

    August 23, 2011
    • What a lovely story, Sue — thank you for your comment!

      August 23, 2011
  2. I have to admit gardening works for me as it reminds me of the beauty all around me and how lucky I am to possess a garden when others have merely window boxes or a meter of concrete. But I love the idea of a gratitude journal, and I suppose at 55 I should start quickly.

    February 14, 2015

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