Have you ever felt that surge of gratitude when you have been given time, been helped or have just been recognized? Then you probably felt that you too wanted to do something in return in appreciation for what you’ve been granted. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, improve their health, deal with adversity, build strong relationships, and feel happier.
Here’s a few tips to feel gratitude, become more mindful and find happiness.
Stop & Breathe. Set an alarm on your phone, once or twice a day to “stop and breathe”. When the alarm sounds, stop anything you’re doing, even if it’s to take one, deep, meaningful breath. Close your eyes, and at that moment, think of one thing that you are grateful for in the midst of the madness of your day. It’s amazing how stopping for this brief moment, resets your mind and gives you a whole new outlook on your day.
I got this idea from Buddhist teacher and monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He said that in the village where he lived, a gong sounded sometimes in the day, reminding everyone that it’s time to pause. It’s a great way to bring awareness to the breath, surroundings and how we truly feel inside.
Rewire your brain to gratitude. Think of the people in your life. Each person touches you in a unique way, teaches you something. Think about what they bring to your life. Let them know that you appreciate them, that you are grateful for them. Look around you and note the things that keep you safe, sustained and supported; let this sensation seep into your mind.
Get in touch with your senses. Go out in nature, in your backyard, on your balcony or stand at your window. Focus on the color of the sky, a tree or a flower. Become aware of the air against your face, your feet on the ground; take a deep breath, noticing any scents. Whether you can touch a leaf, a twig, something soft or just the sensation of your hands on your body, be present with it. Listen to the sounds: are the leaves rustling in the tree? Is a bird singing? What do you notice? Stay in tune with the little things that could bring you happiness.
Find the good in boring, annoying or negative situations; stuck in traffic? Take this time to listen to music or an audiobook. Standing in a long line? Find your breath and use this time to slow down and focus for a moment. Spilled your coffee on yourself just as you were walking out the door? Slow down, breathe, change and go with the flow. It’s your body asking for attention. Fighting it will cause you more stress and you’re late anyway!
Being grateful doesn’t mean pushing the painful situations aside. It just means becoming more resilient and managing the hurt. Give yourself time to grieve and heal, then find the things that you learned or made you stronger.
Training your mind to express gratitude on a daily basis creates new lasting mental states of gratitude:”Neurons that fire together, wire together” said neuropsychologist Donald Hebb in 1949. Ever since, this phrase has been studied and proven over and over by many neuroscientists; each time you repeat a particular thought or action, you strengthen the connection between a set of nervous cells. “You become more grateful by repeatedly installing experiences of gratitude” (Rick Hanson PhD). So have your experience, stay open to it, absorb it and imagine every part of you infused with it.
What are you grateful for this season? How do you express your appreciation? Email me email@example.com or contact me through my website www.vibrantyogi.com Doreen Maalouf is a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance and is an OpenSky bodywork practitioner, treating clients with trauma, anxiety, fears, stress and other matters. She is now accepting clients at the new Center for Integrative Health and Healing in Seal Beach.