Live Your Gratitude Practice — Don’t Just Speak It
If a gratitude practice is part of your morning routine, how do you ensure that it doesn’t become just another chore you have to get done?
When you do a similar practice day in and day out, how do you make sure you feel it deeply each time? How do you keep from just going through the motions?
Every day I start my morning gratitude practice with 5 or 10 things in my life I am thankful for. I try to vary it up, but there are certain elements of my life that are such a big part of me that I mention them consistently.
I wrap up my morning gratitude practice by expressing that I am ready and open for whatever wonderful abundance, both expected and unexpected, my day will bring. That is a wonderful affirmation, but after doing it for 30, 60, 90 days, how do you make sure there’s still feeling behind it?
A gratitude practice is not just something you say for a few minutes a day. It’s something you live, all the hours of the day you are awake. Let’s look at some ways you can demonstrate gratitude, coming from a place of being grateful rather than merely thinking about what it’s like to be grateful.
Gratitude for your children
First of all, credit where credit is due. My inspiration for this article came from a piece Ching Ching published last month, It’s Okay to Let Children Skip School Once a While. She states that now and then, it is (or should be) acceptable to let your child miss a day of school. You can provide them a learning experience they would never be able to have in a classroom.
If you have children, I’d bet they’re right there at the top of the list of everything you’re grateful for. Why not do more than saying it to yourself every morning?
Take a vacation day, and email the child’s teacher and tell them you’re taking the child out of school for a day. Then plan a customized activity that lets you bond with your child, teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget, and reminds you how lucky you are that the universe entrusted you with raising this person.
- If the child shows an interest in helping others, you could search for an organization that assists the homeless and takes parent-child volunteers. There’s an amazing one near me called Hospitality HUB that goes well beyond just food and shelter. It gets its clients bus passes, email contact with loved ones, clothes to wear to job interviews, assistance obtaining photo IDs, and all sorts of everyday needs that get overlooked.
- If the child has an interest in sports, contact your local sports team or club and ask if you or your child could do an informational interview with someone in the organization. It doesn’t have to be a coach or a player. It could very well be someone on the business side, so you gain an insight into what a career in sports looks like if you’re not an athlete.
- On January 20, 1981, my mother allowed me to skip school to watch President Reagan’s inauguration. If your child is civic-minded and there’s an event of similar importance on TV, why not take them out of school, take a personal day, and watch it with them? You can answer their questions, and there’s always the chance you’ll learn something too.
I’ll give one more suggestion. Fathers, if you have a daughter who’s around 11 or 12 years old, here’s a way you can show gratitude for having her in your life: Take her out on a date. Open doors for her, pay plenty of attention to her, make her the center of your world for 3 or 4 hours.
Where to take her? I have a suggestion for that too. Call around and see if there’s a hotel or restaurant that hosts afternoon high tea. Ideally, they’ll have the full spread, with a variety of finger sandwiches as well as pastries to enjoy. What little girl didn’t grow up serving tea to her dolls? Now she gets to be served.
It’s an experience neither you nor she will forget the rest of your lives. Furthermore, you show your daughter how boys should treat her when they take her out in years to come. This gives her the gift of high standards and high self-esteem.
Gratitude for your home
This one especially applies to young couples and young singles. Perhaps the home you’re in is a “starter home” — a small place you can afford on entry-level incomes, someplace to keep you housed until you can afford the home of your dreams.
Or maybe you rent. You might be doing this as you save a down-payment for a starter home. Perhaps you rent because you want to move to a different city, or because you never want the weight of a mortgage payment on your finances.
Whatever the situation, it’s easy to treat a home as a steppingstone. It’s “what you have right now” as you work through the process of moving toward the home you really want.
Yet the whole point of a gratitude practice is to understand that the process itself is the reward. The process is where you find God. You can’t fully appreciate the process if most of your focus is directed at “one day” in the distant future.
What’s an improvement you could make to your current home that would make you fall in love with it even more? What could you add to your living space that would help you appreciate where you are, right now?
The financial investment could raise your current home’s market value. The spiritual investment is priceless.
Gratitude for your job
This is another area of life where many people are on a steppingstone rather than at their final, ultimately desired, destination. You may be working for the paycheck right now, so that one day you may afford your goal of living your passion.
Yet, the key to a truly powerful gratitude practice is being genuinely thankful and joyous for where you are right now. When you do that, you tell the universe, You’re giving me everything I want and need. I know you are sending me even more, and I am so open and ready to receive it!
What little thing can you do to make yourself truly happy to be in your workspace? Is there a creature comfort you can give yourself at work, one that you don’t have at home? Maybe a set of gourmet teas you drink only at work? Binaural beats through a pair of headphones that keep the office noise out?
When I worked in a suburb of my city, one reason I was grateful to go to work was access to fast-food restaurants we don’t have in my urban Downtown neighborhood. Even curly fries can be part of a spiritual practice.
A daily gratitude practice is a way to become a magnet for happiness, inner peace, and abundance. However, you want to avoid situations where you’re thinking something like this:
Okay, time to get out of bed. What chores do I have to get done this morning? Bring the newspaper in. Feed the cat. Take the laundry out of the dryer. Practice gratitude.
Think about the things you’re most grateful for, the people and things you mention every day in your practice. Go beyond just saying them — what can you do to demonstrate your appreciation that they are part of your life?
Here I’ve listed what you might do to demonstrate gratitude for your children, your home, and your job. What other examples can you think of? How would you demonstrate gratitude for your parents? For good friends? For your pets? For continued good health?
Doing little things to demonstrate gratitude reminds you to enjoy what you have in the here and now — and enjoying the process is the secret that tilts the whole universe in your favor.
What are you grateful for, and how will you demonstrate it? Sound off in the comments.
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