Do you sometimes get mired down by negative emotions as you navigate your courageous journey to career clarity? You are not alone! It happens to most of us! Gratitude is one of the most positive qualities you can draw on when you are feeling stuck or frustrated. Unfortunately, it may be the last thing that comes to mind, when you find yourself in the midst of a crisis. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate gratitude in your life, so that it is right there for you, when you need it the most.
Feel Gratitude in Your Heart and Body
To reap the full benefit of any gratitude practice, it’s very beneficial to grow your capacity to feel grateful in your heart and body. Here is one of my favourite practices to help you connect with feelings and sensations of gratitude.
- Bring something to mind that you are grateful for. This could be a dear friend, your pet or your spouse. It could also be a place you treasure, such as a favourite park. You may even recall a meal you find delicious or a scent you love. You could also recall a physical sensation you enjoy, such as the sun warming your back or the experience of floating in a lake.
- Now, take a moment to reconnect with that gratefulness, allow yourself to feel gratitude in your heart. What’s the physical sensation in your heart area like? Do you feel a glow, a softening, a warmth, a lightness, an opening? Notice what it is like for you to feel grateful in your heart and allow yourself to savour this sensation.
- Then let this sensation spread throughout your body. Imagine every cell of your body filling up with this lovely feeling.
- Once you feel gratefulness everywhere in your body, allow this sensation to flow through you and fill the space around you.
- Notice the expansive quality of gratitude and imagine it spreading further and further, filling first your home, then your neighbourhood, expanding out to the entire city and even the whole planet. The feeling of gratitude is truly boundless!
Now that you’ve gotten a taste for how yummy gratefulness feels in your heart and body, let’s explore how to cultivate gratitude in your life. Just like a garden needs consistent attention and care, so does gratitude.
Journal Your Gratitude
Countless psychological studies have shown that keeping a daily gratitude journal promotes good health, longevity and happiness. It’s a simple, yet powerful practice to grow your awareness of all the goodness in your life.
- Choose a specific time of day to write into your gratitude journal. It’s helpful to attach your journaling practice to another daily activity that’s already habitual, such as your morning coffee or breakfast. If it seems hard to find a specific time, just put a journal and pen into your purse or pack and write whenever you have a moment. Some people even like to start a gratitude log on their phone.
- Every day write down three things that you are grateful for. These can be seemingly small things.
- Then bask in your grateful feelings and sensations, following the guided Gratitude Mini-Retreat.
Gratitude journaling helps you grow your awareness of all the blessings in your life. This practice is training your mind to look for and recognize things to be grateful for. The more you focus on gratitude, the more opportunities to be grateful show up in your life. You will notice over time that disappointing or frustrating experiences won’t throw you off balance as easily, and that you will bounce back into positivity much faster. On days when gratitude feels out of reach, you may read a few pages of your past writing to help you re-connect with the blessings in your life.
Share Your Gratitude
As you are writing your journal, you will most likely write about people in your life that you are grateful for. To further expand your positive feelings, I encourage you to share your gratitude with these people.
When you tell the people in your circle what you appreciate about them, it further strengthens positive connections and relationships. This in turn will create more reasons to feel grateful for you and your loved ones. You may wish to send a card or make a phone call. Sending a gratitude text message or e-mail are also great ways to share. As you do, you and the recipients get a chance to bask in the positivity and appreciation.
It is also wonderful, community-building practice to share feelings of gratitude during social gatherings. Years ago, I had the great pleasure to participate in Shabbat dinner with a Jewish community in Vancouver. As we broke the bread, each person around the table shared something they were grateful for that day. A woman was thankful for her sister’s recovery from cancer. A little boy shared with sparkling eyes about playing street hockey with his buddies. A man expressed his appreciation for his faith and how it strengthens his spirit. With each person sharing their gratefulness, we were all reminded of the many blessings in our lives.
Ever since that heart-warming Shabbat dinner experience, I began to cultivate gratitude around the dinner table with friends and family. Over the years I have noticed that this practice often inspires positive conversations. Each time it deepens the appreciation for the time we enjoy together. I encourage you to cultivate gratitude sharing as you gather with friends and family.