Three Ways to Practice Gratitude

Gratitude has become a bit of a buzz word the last few years, and I would say for good reason. The practice of gratitude is one of the best methods to change the pattern of your thoughts that influence your emotional health. When you are grateful for your life as it is currently, it becomes much harder to feel bitter feelings towards others and yourself. Research is actually showing that people who practice gratitude are less likely to feel anxious or depressed. To feel more gratitude there are three simple ways I would suggest to help you get more consistent in evoking the emotions associated with gratitude.

  1. Count your blessings
    Simply start by making a list of things, people or experiences in your life for which you are grateful. I typically recommend getting a notebook, noting the date at the top and writing down at least three new things (that you haven’t listed recently) that make you feel blessed. If you can write a list of ten, even better. It is also important to evoke the feelings of gratitude while you are writing. The longer you are in this state, the better. Recording your blessings in the morning is a great way to start the day.
  2. Evening reflection
    This is a simple technique I developed and advise to my patients. Before going to sleep, close your eyes and reflect back on your day and think of the instances when you felt your best, when you felt a sense of peace, purpose or love in your life. Try to come up with five these and you will often find these were very simple moments during the day.
  3. Grace
    Before you eat anything, state how thankful you are for the food your body is about to receive. This does not need to be religious, although if you are already in the habit of saying grace as a religious practice, that is wonderful but take a moment to make sure you are truly evoking the emotions of gratitude. This calms your system which is very important for eating. You need your parasympathetic nervous system active for proper digestion. The very thought of food also primes your system to switch to digest mode.

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