How to Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

How to Make Gratitude a Daily Habit

via Mindful by Nate Klemp and Eric Langshur

We tend to talk about gratitude as a way of expressing thanks—thanks for a meal, an event, or an act of kindness. Following the lead of researchers in the field of positive psychology, the definition of gratitude is a little more broad. We define gratitude as the conscious appreciation of any aspect of our life experience. Sonja Lyubomirsky, on the other hand, offers a more poetic description:

“It is wonder; it is appreciation; it is looking at the bright side of a setback; it is fathoming abundance; it is thanking someone in your life…it is “counting blessings.” It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is coping; it is present-oriented.”

Gratitude is one of the easiest ways to shift our set-point-driven state of mind. Fifteen seconds of savoring something you are grateful for can be transformative. It can broaden your perspective on life, turn problems into possibilities and irritation into curiosity. The challenge and real benefit comes from training the skill to become second nature so that you naturally savor gratitude throughout the day. 

Jack, a former family business owner and executive coach describes a lifelong negative pattern of behaviour that changed when he developed a daily habit of gratitude:

“I used to focus on the “specks on the wall” of my life. Things that I didn’t have (cooler job, bigger house) or wanted more of (money, power). I was keeping score in a game that didn’t add up to what I really valued in life—my family, close connections with friends, and a job that was aligned with my purpose. I began to notice how often I focused on mostly the negative stuff. I developed a daily habit of gratitude and started keeping a gratitude journal. Now, when I begin to think about the specks, I shift to gratitude, and it completely changes my day. My best move, though, is to extend the feeling of gratitude and savor these moments by closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. It has transformed my life.”

We all have our own version of Jack’s “specks on the wall.” Without gratitude, we focus on life’s imperfections; in fact they often become all that we can see. Gratitude gives us a wider perspective. We may still see the imperfections but we also recognize the blessings that surround them.

Ram Dass, a former Harvard psychologist and an acclaimed spiritual teacher, uses the analogy of a picture of the sky to illustrate this shift in perspective. According to Dass, if you have a photograph of the sky that is zoomed in on a small gray cloud, that’s all you can see. Everything looks dark and colorless. But if you zoom out and see the sky from a larger perspective, you begin to see that the cloud is surrounded by blue sky. That’s the kind of shift in perspective that you can access through gratitude…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE