Why practicing gratitude was not working for me before? … but it is working now!
The last two decades psychology has introduced ‘’gratitude’’ as a ‘’tool’’ to move away from uncomfortable emotions and enjoy happiness and positive thinking. Benefits are so many that ‘’practicing gratitude’’ has become a trend!
And to be honest, it is true that when you feel grateful you cannot experience any difficult emotion or unresourceful thought at the same time! Just try it! On the contrary, you can enjoy happiness and feel inspired and energized to take your dreams and goals to the next level.
But for some of us ‘’practicing gratitude’’ it’s easier said than done! ‘’What should I do?’’ I remember wondering long time back … ‘’Perhaps I need to keep a journal and write down every day 2-3 things I feel grateful about’’ … well, I tried but it was hard … I was so stressed and unhappy in my life that time that ‘’feeling grateful’’ sounded like a joke to me … and even when logically was able to point out few things (eg, grateful I have a house, food on my table etc) I couldn’t observe any shift of my mood or way of thinking …
The turning point was when I discussed about that with my coach. She encouraged me to think about three points that really helped me unlock the experience of ‘’gratitude’’ and enjoy so many benefits. Sharing those points below that you might find useful too:
- Allow yourself to decide. Do I really want to enjoy gratitude and positive emotions?
Probably now you are thinking ‘’Are you crazy? ... Is there anyone who doesn’t want to feel good?’’ .Well we might not realize it but our brain loves resolving problems, so it’s constantly looking for them. If at the same time you are raised in a culture (like mine) that people around you focus more on the problems rather than blessings and opportunities, then you might have fallen into the same trap I did. Logically I was telling myself I want to practice gratitude but my emotions were not able to follow. Giving myself the ‘’right’’ to choose if I want or not, helped me to unlock this part
- Focus on the feelings instead of the facts
Journaling and writing down things really help, but most important factor is the actual feeling. Sometimes it can be difficult to get there. Even I was not realizing it, I was actually trying to experience gratitude with the brain, capturing all the things that I was ‘’supposed’’ to feel grateful for, so it was not working. It took me a while to realize that only when I felt the gratitude deep in my heart to the level that I got tears in my eyes, the real change started happening. It was only then that my way of thinking moved and I started seeing the great benefits of gratitude in my life!
- Be consistent. This is a new muscle, so it requires a regular practice until it becomes an unconscious way of thinking. Consistency is important factor. My way to do that is not missing any opportunity to thank people around me and maintaining an one – minute practice between my meetings or coaching sessions. I find it extremely rejuvenating and resourceful. I also keep it as part of my journaling routine … what are your ways to practice gratitude? 😊