“Who here is ready for 2014? What are you doing to set yourself up for a happy and successful 2014?” – Angie Jenkins, Fit 4 Life
In finally getting around to clearing out my emails, at the end of January, I came across a New year’s email from the lovely Angie at Fit4life. The last part of which resonated with me enough to want to write about it. Here’s an excerpt:
“Lastly, I leave you with one of the most important top tips to a successful life, body shape, health, business and…well…everything!
This is to Practice Gratitude.
This is particularly important at this time of year. By making a list of things you’re grateful for, you focus the brain on positive energy. Gratitude is incompatible with anger and stress.
Focusing on what you’re grateful for- even for five minutes a day- has the added benefit of being one of the best stress-reduction techniques on the planet.
This will change your life. Every single successful teacher, leader and inspirational figure talks about the need for truly feeling grateful for what we have.
Even if you have a bad day, things aren’t going great for you right now, there should still be some room in your heart and head to be grateful for many things we do have. AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS SOMETHING TO FEEL GRATEFUL ABOUT.
Hope you found this tip useful and will put it into action…I know I am not practicing this on a regular basis but am going to start now!”
So you see, it’s that’s simple. For every minute that you spend feeling sorry for yourself, spend 5 minutes practising Gratitude.
My Resolution for 2014 is to Practice Gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for, beginning with the ease with which I can breathe. We know that whatever we focus our attention on increases. So if I want to increase gratitude in my life, and reduce anger and stress, I simply need to look for things to be grateful for. One way to do this is to spend just 5 minutes each day meditating on all the things I feel grateful for. How to do this?
Mindfulness Technique for Practicing Gratitude:
Set your alarm clock for 10 minutes.
Sit in an easy cross-legged positon, back of your palms resting on your knees, first two fingers and thumb pressed together, or sit as is comfortable for you.
Sitting tall, crown of your head lifting to the ceiling, shoulders relaxed, eyes and mouth gently closed.
Bring your attention to your breath. Watch the breath as it comes in and goes out of the body. Don’t try to change the breath, just simply notice the air going in and going out of the body through the nostrils.
Bring your attention to the space in front of the closed eyes, the space where your mind can rest. Become aware of this space.
Now in this space, mentally list all the things that you feel grateful to have in your life, present and past. Begin with the ease with which you can breathe.
Say mentally as you inhale “It is easy for me to breathe” and as you exhale: “It is easy for me to breathe”. Then when you feel ready, start your Gratitude List.
Breathing in:”I feel grateful for my breath”
Breathing out: “My Breath”.
Breathing in: “I feel grateful for….”
Breathing out: “…”
And so on until the alarm clock rings, simply recalling the items on your Gratitude List.
If nothing comes to mind, count the little things first. It could be the dinner you made yesterday, your fabulous toes, a favourite item of clothing or piece of furniture in your house, or even that one time that you actually managed to be on time, there are no limits to what you can feel grateful for…be creative!
And if practicing Gratitude still sounds too much like hard work, here’s 10 tips to help you stay motivated from Dr David Hamiltion, who funnily enough posted his blog on Gratitude just as I was writing mine! Check it out at http://drdavidhamilton.com/?p=1297
Thanks for reading,
10 Reasons Why Gratitude Is Good For you
2014 JANUARY 29 by David R. Hamilton PhD
I think many people nowadays have heard that gratitude is good for us, but if you haven’t, or want a recap on how and why, here’s 10 reasons below. Please share them with others so that more people enjoy the benefits of gratitude.
1. It’s good for mental health
Studies show that a regular gratitude practice (like keeping a daily or weekly gratitude journal) boosts happiness. Research that compared people who were asked to count blessings with people asked to count hassles and annoyances found that the gratitude groups were around 25% happier.
2. It helps counter stress
We get stressed when we put all of our attention on hassles, frustration, and problems. Gratitude takes our minds away from these things, thereby relieving the stress that they bring. And gratitude as a practice improves our ability to switch our focus in the moment and also helps us notice more of the good things in life that we wouldn’t normally pay as much attention to.
3. It inspires us to exercise more
We feel better when we practice gratitude and many people who do so are then inspired to do things that are good for them, including exercise. One of the findings of a 2003 research study was that people who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more than those who kept hassles journals.
4. It helps us achieve our goals
Over a measured 2-month period, research also showed that people making gratitude lists were found to be more likely to make progress towards important personal goals. Not only do we feel more motivated when we feel good but we are also more creative and more likely to spot solutions to our problems.
5. It makes us kinder
One finding of gratitude research is that people keeping daily gratitude lists are more likely to help someone in need, when compared with people making lists of hassles.
6. Makes you feel less lonely (more connected)
Making us more kind also improves our relationships and connections with others. Some participants in gratitude studies indeed report feeling more connected to people. Some people practicing gratitude also feel more connected and part of life as a whole. It increases their sense of belonging in the world.
7. It helps us sleep better
In his inspiring book, ‘Thanks: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier’, Robert Emmons, the world’s foremost gratitude researcher, encourages us to “count blessings, not sheep” if we can’t get to sleep. Moving the mind away from worries and stresses and towards good things helps relax us, making dropping off to sleep much more likely.
8. It makes you feel more in control of your life (more optimism)
After observing that gratitude is having a positive effect on life and emotions, we begin to feel more optimistic and in control of our lives, rather than being bounced around by life events. With renewed optimism and strength, gratitude can even help us to turn our lives around.
9. People like you better
Some gratitude practices involve thinking of people we’re grateful for and the reasons why. A side-effect of this is that it improves the quality of our relationships with them. It also helps us see the best in people and therefore bring out the best in them. Overall, it make us warmer towards others. People tend to like people like this.
10. Better Health
It’s good for our overall physical health and cardiovascular health. As well as making exercise more likely, some research shows that gratitude gives us better immune systems and even lower blood pressure.
Gratitude is a practice, and like all practices we need to be consistent to get best results. I recommend you make a big deal of your gratitude practice so that you are encouraged to be consistent. Get a nice journal and draw or paint the words, ‘My Gratitude Journal on It’. I like to use a journal with nice paper and also use a pen that feels nice.
You can keep it beside your bed or carry it around with you in your bag. You can keep note of things that occur daily that you’re grateful for, and even jot down reasons why you’re grateful for particular people in your life. I’d also recommend that you also include things you’re grateful for about yourself – your personality, your strengths, your talents, who you are, the way you are with people, animals, etc … anything, really, that reminds you that you are enough!
Dr David Hamiltion