Gratitude is a powerful state. When you live a life of gratitude, you’re happier with yourself and the world. It means you’ve made a conscious effort to focus on and be happy with what you have, instead of constantly worrying about what you don’t.
One great way for promoting gratitude is to keep a journal. By sitting down and writing about how you feel, and also about the things you have and are thankful for, you’re actively training yourself to pay attention to the positive things in your life. A yoga and writing retreat is usually an oasis of finding yourself and of rewiring your brain to go to gratitude thoughts instead of habitual complaining or worrying.
But keeping a journal is not for everyone. Some people simply don’t like to write, or they don’t think they have the ability to capture in words what they really feel. Journaling also takes time, and although it’s worth it, finding a hole in your schedule to sit down and write in a diary can be hard.
But fear not! You do not need to keep a journal to promote gratitude. There are lots of other things you do in your daily life to help you feel and promote gratitude.
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Meditation has been taking off in recent years. As people search for answers to their stressful, unhappy lives, meditation has proven to be a powerful tool for improving the way we look at life. And this isn’t coming from only spiritual leaders and yogis; leading scientific institutions, such as Harvard Medical School, have found meditation to be an effective way to improve stress levels and overall well-being.
But what is it about meditation that has this effect? Well, meditation, or mindful sitting for those who prefer a more secular moniker, is all about understanding the power of the unconscious mind. Its purpose is to help us detach from our thoughts and desires, recognizing them more as products of delusion and circumstance than of our true Nature.
When we do this, we begin to see things as they truly are. We learn that many of our negative thoughts are actually not our own but are instead the result of incessant messaging about how much we need to improve and get better.
Meditation can help us see these as mere distractions, and that there’s nothing about ourselves to be ashamed about. We can understand our shortcomings better, but more importantly, we can learn to appreciate ourselves for who we are.
This is gratitude. By knowing that our negativity and self-loathing comes from without and not within, we can better tune out this negativity. We will still have thoughts that go against this, but through meditation, we can learn to watch them go by without engaging them and allowing them to change how we feel.
If you’re new to meditation, start by introducing one or two 20-minute sessions per day. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You cannot stop your thoughts but try your hardest to not let them dominate your mind. Slowly they will dissipate, and you can return to your center. It will take practice but introducing and sticking to a meditation routine in your life will help you become more comfortable with yourself, making it easier to promote gratitude.
One of the best things about yoga is that it teaches us to be patient with ourselves, and helps promote self-love. Our bodies don’t always respond exactly the way we want them to. And that’s okay. It’s important to recognize and be comfortable with our limits; expecting to achieve the impossible is a recipe for negativity.
This does not mean you should not push yourself. But knowing the limits of your growth and working to live within them is very important to promoting gratitude. It helps you appreciate better the state you’re in, and it also magnifies accomplishment. Instead of thinking of reaching a goal as just another step towards some unattainable state, you can see it for what it is: a triumph. This will foster more positive feelings about yourself, pushing you to do more.
Really any physical activity can help you feel this, but yoga pays more attention to it. Developing this patience with yourself, and connecting to your inner you, is one of the fundamental components of yoga. Building it into your daily or weekly routine is a great way to promote gratitude in your life.
Unleash your creativity
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Creation is the essence of life. When we use our creativity, we are breaking down the mental barriers we have put up for ourselves and give ourselves the chance to be who we truly are. However, creativity faces a lot of judgment in our society. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, and this creates feelings of inadequacy, not gratitude.
Yet when you are creative and do not fear judgment, you are helping to promote gratitude. You are saying to yourself and the world that you need nothing else besides yourself, your creative energy and perhaps a few tools to be happy. This is a powerful message.
So, if you like to sing, paint, dance, play an instrument or do anything else creative, work to make more time in your schedule for these activities. The important thing is to detach yourself from others. Continuously remind yourself you’re not doing these things so that you can be accepted by society. Instead, remember you are doing it for yourself. These types of exercises will help you develop more patience for yourself, appreciate better your own abilities and promote gratitude in your entire life.
Take pleasure in simple things
We are all busy. Between work, school, family, community and everything else in between, it’s hard to appreciate what’s going on around you. So, what do you do? Well, you need to train yourself to take pleasure in some smaller things.
There are things we do every day that are extraordinary. For example, many of us drink coffee. This is a drink that offers powerful health and performance benefits, so much so that many cultures treated it as something sacred. Yet how many of us brew or buy a cup and guzzle it down as quickly as we can either in the car or once we get to the office. Buying some high-quality coffee and sitting down every morning, in an environment free from distractions, to really appreciate it is a very simple way of promoting gratitude.
But it doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be the walks you take throughout the day; or it could be the views from your office; or it could also be the few moments you have to yourself when you first wake up. There are always moments we could be appreciating better. Slowing down and enjoying them, even for just a few minutes, helps us express more gratitude towards what we have and where we are, helping to spread positivity all around us.
When you walk down the street, take a moment to look at people’s faces. How many are looking up and smiling? And how many have their eyes buried in the sidewalk, or their phones? Probably many more people are doing the latter than the former.
But imagine what the world would look like if every time you walked down the street you were greeted with eye contact and a smile. Smiling is an easy way to express gratitude. It says to the world you’ve made the choice to be happy right where you are. When others see you, they may be intimidated by your positivity, but don’t let this discourage you. Keeping a smile on your face is probably the easiest way to continuously promote gratitude.
All of the things we’ve mentioned today are powerful ways to promote gratitude, but you can start today by simply focusing on the beauty of the world around us and smiling at all that you see.
Do you want to get used to feeling more gratitude? A stay in a yoga and meditation retreat can be the perfect start!