Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I choose to honor this day by focusing on the name: Thanks-Giving. 

Today I want to talk with you about having a gratitude practice, the benefits of it, and creating a practice that actually produces the best of those benefits for you! 

The benefits of gratitude can be huge. It can support you socially in creating deeper & healthier relationships.  It can improve your immune system, sleep, and overall health. It can decrease stress & worry.  It can be personally growth giving in ways like improving self esteem & becoming more of an optimist. It can improve your emotional state - creating a happier, more resilient way of being.  It can even improve how you operate in your career. 

Over all - practicing gratitude can effectively increase your joy! Your over all level of happiness rises, which obviously effects all areas of your life positively. 

I want to tell you a quick story. Some years ago I was going through a rough patch in life. It was suggested to me to start a gratitude journal and write in it daily as a means to help pick me up. So I did. Once or twice a day I wrote down at least 3 things I was grateful for. About 30 days into the practice, I realized that most days I was just going through the motions. I was getting it done, just to get it done. I would search for things i was grateful for to write down, but I wasn't really creating the space to feel them. I knew that just writing a list wasn't really working well for me, so I switched it up. I took time each day to sit in gratitude. I took moments to meditate on it and 'feel it' rather than write it. This worked for me - and I started feeling the positive effects much more than when I was writing a list. It boosted how I felt daily, and it helped me to keep a positive attitude through a trying time. 

Why do I share this story? 
Well - The title today is how to get the MOST out of your gratitude practice. While many articles will suggest a specific practice that they think works best, what I want to suggest to you today, is to find your own way. What works best for one person, may not be the best solution for the next. You are unique, and only you can know what will be most effective for you. Regularly practicing gratitude does have amazing effects for everyone, and I encourage you to find the way that is most effective for you! 

Below is a list of suggestions for bringing a practice of gratitude into your life. There are many different ways to explore. I encourage you to explore. Start with a way that you feel drawn to. Be self-aware as you explore & something isn't feeling effective for you, try something else. Personal growth is really about personal exploration. One person's recipe for happiness is different from the rest. Find your own! 

Suggestions in practicing gratitude: 

1) The most commonly recommended - Journal. Write several things daily that you are grateful for. If daily feels too routine, maybe a weekly journaling session feels better. Stumped on what to write about? focus on different areas of your life weekly. What are you grateful for in your relationships? Your health? Your career? Your social life? 

2) Express gratitude to others. This one is huge. Contact people that have had a positive impact on your life, and tell them how grateful you are for their part in your life. Call them. Write a letter. Have a visit. Send a card with a thoughtful gift. This can be one of the most powerful practices. 

3) Bookend your days with gratitude. Before you get out of bed in the morning, lay there and think of several things that you are grateful for, and do the same at night as you fall asleep. This starts and ends your day on a positive, grateful note. If you have kids, this could be a great thing to practice with them. If you have a partner, this could also be a wonderful thing to speak out to each other as you start & end your days. 

4) Take moments each day to "feel" gratitude rather than writing it or speaking it. It can be helpful to create a cue for yourself until you develop the habit. Perhaps a favorite rock in your pocket could be a gratitude rock. Whenever you feel it in your pocket, you are cued to take a moment to 'feel' grateful for whatever is happening in that moment. a piece of jewelry like a ring, bracelet, or pendant can work the same way. You'll be surprised how quickly you can create a habit from this practice that happens naturally. 

5) Discuss gratitude with a close friend or partner. Maybe you know someone that is also wanting to create a gratitude practice? Discussing what you are grateful for together can be really effective. Speaking things out can make them feel clear and really sink in. 

6) Create a "gratitude Jar". (This can be a fun project to do with kids as well). Decorate a jar or even a small box of some kind, and daily, weekly, or whenever you feel like it, write down things you are grateful for on little pieces of paper and add them to the jar. When you are feeling low, or like you need a boost, get out the gratitude jar and read them. 

7) Gratitude meditation. Make gratitude part of a daily meditation practice. Think of the things in life that make you feel comfortable & safe. Think of the people you love and send them love & gratitude in your practice. Think of the things that bring you joy. 

8) Take a gratitude walk. (this is a favorite of mine) Take a walk and dedicate the first 10-20 minutes to finding things to feel grateful for around you. Treat it like a walking meditation. Take in the beauty around you & find gratitude in the natural world. Find gratitude in the ability to move your body. The more you practice this, the more things will come to you. 

9) Make a gratitude collage. Feeling artistic? This can be a great exercise, creative outlet, and something that you can hang in a place in your home that you will see often. Maybe it hangs next to your bed, where it's the first thing you see everyday. 

10) Watch this video and take a cue from this girl. OMG - this is hands down one of my very favorite viral online videos of all time. THIS little human has her gratitude practice mastered. Take one minute to watch this - I promise of will put a smile on your face! 

Do you have other practices that help you to foster a feeling of gratitude? What works well for you? I'd love to hear from you. 

Wishing you a beautiful day of Thanks-Giving with your loved ones!
Thank YOU for reading and being a part of my journey :) 

Shelly