The expression of gratitude does not have to be confined to extended gratitude meditations. In fact, the more often you can find simple ways to express gratitude, the more readily will you achieve a brain makeover from negative thoughts to a positive outlook and impact positively on those you interact with. It is a two-way street though – an extended gratitude meditation can deepen your overall sense of gratitude while regular expressions of gratitude can keep this positive emotion top of mind and impact your behaviour on an ongoing basis.
Simple gratitude exercises
If you have a suite of simple gratitude exercises, you are more likely to practise them and extend your expression of gratitude throughout the day as different gratitude prompts occur. Here are some gratitude exercises to get you started:
Making your “thank you” a conscious act
Stephanie Domet suggests that we can improve the quality of our daily expression of gratitude to others by being really present when we say “thank you”. We can often be distracted, mouth the words as a matter of course without real feeling behind them or become focused on our next action without being really present to the person we are “communicating” with. The person receiving the communication can sense whether you mean what you say or are just going through the motions. If you are not present when you say the words, your positive intent is lost as are the benefits for yourself and the other person.
Savour the moment through your senses
Elaine Smookler provides a comprehensive explanation of a 5-minute exercise that involves progressively engaging each of your senses in-the-moment. She maintains that this practice builds personal resilience when the waves of life wash over you – when things don’t turn out as you expected. Elaine also provides a guided meditation podcast within her article. This approach helps to switch your brain from a deficit mentality to one of appreciating life’s small blessings.
Reflecting on your day with gratitude
Towards the end of each day, it pays to look back on the day and reflect on what you have appreciated about your day – the people you have interacted with and the friendships involved, the opportunities that have come your way, the ease of conversation, the chance to achieve something worthwhile, acquiring new skills or knowledge (or enhancing existing knowledge/skills), gaining insights, growing in awareness (both internal and external). The list of things to be grateful for goes on endlessly once you set your mind to it. This simple exercise of appreciating the small things in life on a daily basis helps us to break free of self-doubt or negative thoughts and builds our confidence and potentiality.
Building gratitude into your daily life – choosing a simple or extended gratitude exercise
You can build your appreciation and sense of gratitude very quickly through these exercises and deepen your gratitude with more extended meditation practice. The secret is to head down this path of appreciation and its attendant benefits by choosing something, a simple or extended practice, that you can build into your daily life. It needs to be something that suits your lifestyle so that you can sustain it over time and make it an integral part of your life. One gratitude practice will then lead to another and change your outlook on life as well as your interactions.
As you grow in mindfulness through simple gratitude exercises and/or extended gratitude meditation, you will build your awareness of the positive aspects of your life, develop greater resilience and strengthen your relationships. Time spent reflecting on the things you appreciate each day will bring a rich reward.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: courtesy of TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay
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