Take 30 seconds to pause and look, listen, and feel around in your environment or within your mind’s eye. Name five things that you can express gratitude toward. Maybe it’s a sunny day, the warmth of your coffee mug, a kind word from a loved one, a comfortable sweater, or a healthy breakfast.
What do you see around you? What often goes unseen?
Bringing forth gratitude through daily practice has many well researched benefits. Moreover, the practice of gratitude can open larger and larger doors for accessing thankfulness and noticing the abundance in our lives through an everyday attitude of gratefullness.
If a concrete plan is helpful for your practice, consider the practice of gratitude as an antidote to aversion or distress. When feeling aversion of distress, use intention to substitute your current attitude or narrative with gratitude. What is one way you can practice gratitude in such moments? How can you reframe or shift your narrative to one of appreciation?
There are endless ways to practice gratitude, from small to large. You might practice noticing small details in your environment such as a beautiful tree or the sunlight shining through your window. You can practice relational gratitude by expressing thanks toward others or slow down long enough to see kindness in the world around you. You might plan to use a journal to record your gratitude or create a jar for family members to collect notes of gratitude. You might plan to mindfully drink tea or eat a meal as a gratitude practice. You might use a daily habit such as brushing your teeth, driving your car, or preparing a meal as a regular time to remind yourself of your gratitude practice. Whether structured or unplanned, a gratitude practice can allow for us to develop an orientation toward the world that is grounded in a sense of abundance, rather than the pressures of striving that underly much of our collective cultural attitude.
As a mindfulness practice, gratitude can gradually become a quiet presence in our lives or a way of being as we notice the small things that often go unseen. If we practice to the point of no longer thinking of our efforts as practice, of just being in gratitude as a form of everyday awareness, we can more easily turn toward gratitude when we need it.
We don’t need to travel the world to have extraordinary adventures. Seeing the sacred in the ordinary and accessing our spiritual natures by cultivating an everyday experience of gratitude can allow for us to connect deeply to our daily reality. As we develop everyday gratitude, we can open more doors to notice the small things as unexpected delights in our lives and come to experience a greater sense of abundance.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
PSYPACT Authority to Practice Interjurisdictional Telepsychology (APIT) Map of Participating States
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