Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @SolangeKnowles
If GRATITUDE means:
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
And MINDSET means:
An established set of attitudes held by someone.
I guess practicing more gratitude should be as simple as establishing and holding a set of attitudes that show appreciation. But the truth is, in our day to day, when life is – you know, doing what it does and we’re going through our experiences, it can feel and seem a little bit more complicated than that.
I’m sure you can relate; we have good days, days where things just seem to flow and we’re feeling grateful and then BOOM – something happens and it becomes a little harder to stay in that space. We become overwhelmed by it all and inevitably our focus and mindset shift and we start experiencing a whole different day!
That’s why I’m going to put focus on the process and the journey vs. just giving you a list of all the things you can do. Because we’re all different, I could give you five options, and maybe only one will work for you so let me give you the blueprint instead (don’t worry, I’ll still throw in some practical ideas!).
So how can we implement practicing more gratitude on a consistent basis, so that it’s part of our lifestyle?
Firstly: Be honest with yourself and accept you’re choosing that journey!
The truth of the matter is if you’re not truly interested in putting in the work, by establishing those set of attitudes to get to where you want to be. It will not happen. There’s this huge misconception around spirituality, positive thinking, or holistic-based approaches that reduce the work that you actually have to put in. It’s like people want to create this narrative that being positive is easy, or boring, but trust me, it actually takes more energy not to complain, than to do so. It takes more energy to wake up every day and despite what happens in your life choose the positive, as well as choosing to be kind to yourself and others.
So, expect to hear some less favourable opinions if you embark on this journey and shift your ways. Be prepared for your efforts to be downplayed because no one will know how much you’re pouring into yourself to actually be better!
Secondly: Be kind to yourself and put in the work!
Embrace it all! There will be days where you’ll feel so good about all of the steps you’re taking, and others where you won’t, so first and foremost be kind to yourself on this journey! Accept all parts of it as the path to get to where you want to be, there’s no failure, only lessons, so learn! Try, learn and keep doing better with what you’ve learned. Put things in perspective, remember the bigger picture, and always remind yourself of how far you’ve come.
Thirdly: Find what works for you
Have fun with it! Like anything else, implementing and making sure you stick to this will only work if it’s truly enjoyable! So, find your space, find the practices and the rituals that truly bring you joy so that this can be a possible and happy journey!
Some of my favourite ways to remain in a grateful space are:
– Keep a gratitude journal: I love a routine, so the ‘Five Minute Journal’ is perfect for me, I start and end my days with gratitude, it’s quick, inspiring and effective! There are so many out there to choose from but the fact is you don’t even need to buy one! Just write down 3 things you’re thankful for every morning, every night, whatever works!
– Meditate: I’m loving the Deepak Chopra App for this, you can choose from a bunch of different programmes and themes and if you like guided meditations, these are perfect! PS. The programme with Alicia Keys is so good. But again, there are so many options out there to find the right platform for you!
– Utilize visual reminders: This is great for those moments when things are happening and your focus shifts. Post-it’s can be a good visual reminder, setting dedicated alarms, and general notes as a ‘note to self’ can be effective too. I downloaded an app called ‘I AM’ and it definitely helps to receive reminders throughout the day.
– Breathe: The simplest and probably most effective! When you’re overwhelmed, when you’re focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do, take a couple breaths and shift your focus!
As you go along, be creative with it! Be intentional with your choices, express gratitude for yourself, your journey, your loved ones, your challenges, and your victories at every chance you get! There’s no doubt that gratitude directly impacts our mental health with studies showing that it can increase our resilience, boost self-esteem, increase happiness, and improve sleep amongst many others.
So, find your flow on this, even if that’s listening to Jhené Aiko’s Tiny Desk a million times because that’s what makes you feel grateful! There’s no wrong way to do this and only you know what lights you up. Can’t wait to hear about your journey!