20 Jan Re-Fall In Love With The Life You Already Have
Are you happy with life right now? Happy with what you have? Where are you at the moment? Perhaps you’re doing all the yoga and practicing daily meditation, but somehow still feeling a bit low in the happiness stakes. What gives?
Have you tried a gratitude practice (Hint: it’s called a practice for a reason)? For example, what are three things you are grateful for right now? Could be anything, whatever’ll put a smile on your face instantly. And if you have no idea what all the fuss is about, not to worry, we’ll show you the benefits of a gratitude practice and how you can experiment with it in your own life to live a happier life.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude seems like a simple word, but the word means such different things to different people. It gets associated with thankfulness, appreciation, pleasing, kindness, or something that’s meaningful. And your personal definition could shift every day (like anything else, am I right?).
Whichever way you choose to define gratitude is perfectly fine. Feeling grateful does not necessarily fit neatly into one box. Everyone has different things to be grateful for. You could feel grateful for a whole load of things: a simple warm meal on a rainy day. The brief second when you switch from panicked and rushed to calm and collected, all because you sat down for that five-minute meditation (Oh, the bliss!). Those rare and priceless moments when you’re with friends or family and you find yourself laughing ’til you cry. Yes, these days!
As you begin to practice gratitude daily, you may notice one thing to be true: it is always there, somewhere. In whichever way a moment where you can express gratitude may show up in your life on a given day, more often than not, it’s lurking and waiting for you to notice. #truth. I can already see that smile forming on your lips.
Gratitude rewires the brain.
Happiness, for most people, is a choice. There is scientifically backed truth to that idea. Shawn Achor is one of the leading “happiness researchers”, and his work focuses on the positive attributes of psychology such as joy and gratitude, rather than the negative aspects like depression and anxiety which often receive the majority of the spotlight in psychological research.
We often tend to focus on the negative things in our lives first, then the positive ones. It’s our bodies’ survival mechanism (looking for the dangers first), but it doesn’t have to be when we’re so rarely in actual danger. When life gets tough or when situations in our lives, or even in the world, become too overwhelming for us, we tend to spiral down into negative thought patterns. Seeing everything going wrong or isn’t working tends to take over. But we can take the power back. We can shift our focus on the positive things in our life, even if they are super tiny. #smallthingscount
After a 21 day study in which participants wrote down three things they were grateful for each day – without repeating the same thing as the days before, the researchers found that practicing gratitude made people happier.
Practicing gratitude for 21 days rewires the brain, causing thought patterns to shift to in a more positive direction naturally. Many who practice gratitude for only 21 days end up continuing the routine afterwards because they feel the benefits, they feel happier! Making gratitude a habit can seriously affect your quality of life. So are you ready to choose happiness? Here are a couple of ways to experiment with gratitude in your very own life.
How to incorporate gratitude into your daily life in three steps:
- Write down three new things you are grateful for every day for 21 days. You can journal in the morning or at night. There may be benefits to recording the gratitude list at night when the memories from the day are fresh. And it can be anything from waking up in a clean bed, a smile from a stranger or breathing in the fresh air. Remember, even the tiniest things count. Make sure you are not repeating yourself every day, pick something different. You will be surprised how much gratitude fills your daily life without you even noticing.
- The key here is not just listing the three items, but writing down why you are grateful for those items. By writing down why you are grateful for a given event that occurred during your day, you are recording the meaning of the event for you personally. This trains your brain to highlight the feeling behind what makes you feel grateful (happiness, joy, love, empathy, feeling cared for, etc.), rather than merely jotting down the thing itself. Don’t stress, it’ll come easier to you the more you practice.
- The next step is to write down three details about each experience. These details could be what you were wearing, what you were thinking about, a detail about where you were, or how your hair looked. Detailing the events makes your brain relive the positive experience a second time. By journaling about the event, you are doubling the memory. Since your brain cannot tell the difference between visualisation and reality, you are essentially creating a duplicate of the same event in your brain’s database. And let’s face it, too many good things are NEVER gonna be a bad thing, especially when it comes to our pattern-forming brain.
A bonus way to incorporate gratitude into your daily life?
Another way to incorporate gratitude into your life during those 21 days of journaling is to thank someone different every day in a quick message. The best way to do this is to set aside two or so minutes every morning to send a positive message to someone you are grateful for. You are on messenger anyways, so might put it to good use.
By expressing your gratitude for someone else, you are strengthening your own sense of worth. You’ll spend part of the day feeling great about sending a positive message that brightened someone else’s day. Social connection is not social connectedness in terms of social media. It’s the true breadth, depth, and meaning of our social relationships.
By doing this 2-minute exercise, the participant’s social connection score rose to the top ten per cent worldwide. Increased social connection scores can improve quality of life, boost mental health, and increase longevity. Imagine, you would receive a message like, that wouldn’t that also just make your day. So go spread the love!
Isn’t it amazing how you can shift your awareness to the small things in your life and completely change your outlook! It’s the small things that make up the big things in the end. It’s time to start paying attention to the small things that spark up your daily life. Writing them down and reflecting after the 21 days. What a difference it will make in your life and others. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, maybe the beginning of the new decade is the perfect timing to give it a go. All you need is a journal and a pen. You won’t regret it, promise.
Loving Kindness Meditation
In need of a little reset before you dive into your gratitude practice? We hear you. Let go of anything that doesn’t serve you with a big sigh and leave it behind starting afresh. Log onto Power Living‘s online yoga studio, Yogaholics, and join Duncan for this 5-minute loving-kindness meditation. It is a beautiful path to more love and freedom. The more you practice this one, the more joy you will feel in general life. What are you waiting for?
Yogis, are you ready to re-fall in love with your life all over again?
Original article written by Sarah Shah for Blood + Milk