Gratitude: The Valuable and Intentional Practice of The LDRBRND
Happy November to all the LDRBRNDs out there! This month we will be discussing the all important subject of gratitude. Here in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday in November. However, I don’t believe we shouldn’t limit our spirit of thankfulness to a single day, week, or even month. We should be striving to practice gratitude every day of the year! It is a practice that has life changing results.
But don’t take my word for it. Do the research for yourselves, starting with some of the amazing people I invited to be part of this blog post. Below they share their stories of gratitude including the who, what, when, where, how and why. Afterwards, I’ll share a bit from my own experience too. I hope this post blesses and encourages you all!
Insights of Gratitude From the Community
Chris Bryant (Twitter: @The_ChrisBryant)
“My wife and I always practice gratitude, and it’s certainly never been more important with everything that’s going on right now. SO important to stay positive & see the good in your circumstances.
We tell each other 3 things we’re grateful for over breakfast each day.”
Beth Staub (Twitter: @AdventureGlass)
“My life changed for the better when I woke up reciting all the things I’m thankful for and again before bed. The diary did not work for me as I just dwelled in the negative.”
Zala Bricelj (Twitter: @ZalkaB)
“I wish this topic was ingrained into different aspects of our lives. #gratitude is a muscle we need to flex, constantly, in order to develop the practice of it and to realize how impactful / powerful it can be to our lives. When we’re struggling or hurting, gratitude can be such a good medicine, healing, comfort, self-care.
I started being mindful about flexing my #gratitude muscle after a series of losses paired with a health condition that literally left me devastated. Body, mind and soul. I felt purposeless, if that would be correct to describe it. It felt like I couldn’t hold on to (anything).
I realized the only thing I can control and helps was journaling and setting a small goal of finding 5 things I’m grateful for in a day. At times, it was freakin difficult (being a perfectionist, digging deep in trying to find “meaningful” things). Then, the more I practised
…the more it became natural. It shifted my perspective, it helped me calm my emotions and figure out how many small miracles there are around me. I just needed to open my mind, shift my mindset, notice it all around me. #gratitude opened me to seeing goodness, kindness, love
It has now become a mindful practice I do on a daily basis. I miss it, if I skipped a day. Recalling what I’m grateful for daily (for myself and others) makes me see how far I’ve come after the whole ordeal and how excited I am for the path ahead.
I finally understand the feeling of calm and peacefulness that flexing the muscle of #gratitude has given me. To anyone I’d say, whenever doubt, fear, sadness, despair or setback tries to settle in, stop and mindfully recall at least one thing that you’re grateful for.”
Nathalie Gregg (Twitter: @NathalieGregg)
“#gratitude is the best stress relief in the world!
#gratitude must be practiced consistently to be effective!
My #gratitude #practice consist of:
Prayer & meditation
Journaling & visualization
Communicating with friends who inspire me to live #LeadLoudly #bold #confident #fearless”
Paul Haury (Twitter: @PaulHaury)
“I take part in an actual gratitude group. We meet Mondays & Fridays. Do gratitude challenges, etc. Without sharing your gratitude [with] somebody else, its effects diminish and fade and lose meaning. With [sharing] it is kinetic and grows.”
Christine Gritmon (Twitter: @cgritmon)
“There has NEVER been an easier time to count our blessings.
My family is safe and healthy. My husband and I are both still fully employed, and are in a happy and healthy relationship. Our children are incredibly adaptive, and we’ve been so glad they have each other as company.
For a little while I felt a sort of “survivor’s guilt” over my company thriving during this time. But I got through it by giving more to others: donating free social media strategy sessions to local small businesses and friends who were out of work & donating money where I could.”
Jenny Kim (Twitter: @jennykim)
“Gratitude and practicing gratitude is so important.
Recently my mom experienced another fall but she is ok. I am grateful.
Grateful for the health and stability of my parents and brother.
Grateful that #COVID19 has granted me [the opportunity to] engage more with:
morning [writing] friends @dagreen77 @AbVerma21
starting a blog
focusing on Journaling again
positive Twitter community & friends I have found there via #winniesun #leadloudly #digital360chat #TwitterSmarter #berelentless #daretobe”
Shana | Magnolia Heart Creative (Twitter: @magnoliaheartc)
“Focusing on gratitude has become one of my grounding points.
Why? Because of so many events over the past couple of years.
How? Journaling! I’ve got to write it out so that I can see and believe.”
Shruti Deshpande (Twitter: @shruti12d)
“[I] practice [gratitude] frequently by journalling all things I am truly grateful for. Showing gratitude for things, people and really every little or big thing I have at the moment. It plays a huge role in my life. It helps me stay positive & sane. #GratitudeAttitude”
Suzanne Brown (Twitter: @mompowerment)
“A few years ago, I started writing in a gratitude journal each night before bed. It’s part of how I bookend my day with self-care. One of the benefits has been that I focus more on the good moments in my day and my life in general. Having this practice as part of my day has made a difference in how I look at situations during the pandemic. I actively focus on the good moments and opportunities instead of putting more weight on the challenges and negative elements.
Early on during lockdown because of Coronavirus, we had our boys start a gratitude journal as well. Each night before bed, they too write about 3+ good things from their day. There are a lot of challenging elements of Covid-19, especially for children. We wanted to help them look at the positive aspects of each day. And they recognize nice things that someone did for them as much as nice things they did for someone else. Or something fun like time with friends or fun with our dog. It’s amazing how they have been able to reframe things during the pandemic, often without any coaching from my husband or me. And they realize the importance of small moments and shifts to help them see the positive side of things. It’s a life skill we all need.”
Darcy De Leon (Twitter: @darcydeleon)
“I make a gratitude list as soon as I wake up every morning before I get out of bed. It helps me start my day in reality, with more hope and less fear. And it helps me stay positive throughout the day. When it’s time to go to bed, I thank God for my day.
I’ve also been taught to be grateful for tough times – as an act of faith that they’ll serve a purpose and be turned to good somehow in the long run.”
Wow! I am blown away by the responses I received from the LDRBRND community! So many incredible insights were shared. We can all earn something from each and every person.
Gratitude is a personal journey and it looks a little different for each person. If I had to isolate a few common threads, they would be:
Gratitude is a Conscious and Consequential Choice
Nearly every person who implements a practice of gratitude did so deliberately and intentionally. They weren’t passive. They didn’t become regular practitioners of this spiritual discipline by accident. They made a choice and a decision to prioritize thanksgiving. And when they did, it produced major life change. Hearts, minds, bodies, and souls shift in the wake of gratitude. It changes our focus and our perspective and makes us see things clearly and from a different perspective. That is an incredibly powerful approach to life.
Gratitude is a Tangible Practice
We live in such a wonderful time where technology can help us live out a life of gratitude. We can blog, tweet, post, share videos, connect via Zoom, use an app and more. Or we can go low-tech with a simple pen and paper. The point is that gratitude needs some sort of outward and tangible expression. Even if we think a thankful thought, it is fleeting. We need to capture those thoughts in some form so we can remind ourselves later when the inevitable troubles of life come our way. Those reminders lead us out of panic and into peace.
Gratitude Begins Small
The people who incorporate gratitude into their lives in a major way have something important in common: they all started small.
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
You can start by remembering one small thing each day and build from there. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to stop and identify things to be thankful for throughout the day. Gratitude is a muscle, as Zala mentioned above. The more we work it out, the more it grows. Remember, we can’t make any comparisons to anyone else and their gratitude journey. We all start at zero. We are all beginners at one point. There is no pressure from the outside. Gratitude can’t thrive there. Your journey is your own and you get to decide your own pace.
Gratitude Brings People Together and Creates More Joy
Like attracts like. Thankful people bring more thankful people together. There is such power and attraction when grateful people come together. It feeds people’s souls and encourages them in the daily grind of life. There is already enough negativity, cynicism, and complaining in the world. Stand out by being grateful, joyful, and positive. It’s not that bad things don’t happen to such people; it’s that they are better able to weather those storms. Gratitude is a social contagion.
Gratitude is Taught; It’s Not an Innate Character Trait
First, we have to teach ourselves to be grateful. That is no easy thing. We are not born with a natural inclination towards thanksgiving. If anything, we tend towards discontent, selfishness, and complaining. So we have to exert energy to defy that natural human nature. At first, it will be incredibly difficult. But we eventually reach that tipping point with time and practice. But our responsibility doesn’t end there. We can teach those around us (including family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors) the value, the importance, and the impact of gratitude.
Gene’s Experience with Gratitude
I’ll wrap up by sharing my own experience with gratitude. I am a practicing Christian and I take my spiritual life very seriously. To me, God is both the source of gratitude and the recipient of gratitude. Gratitude is a reflection of my understanding of my proper place in life. When I place myself at the center of my universe, it’s difficult – maybe even impossible- to be thankful. Thankfulness flows from a place of humility, submission, and reverence.
Thankfulness is a key component of my faith. Like many Christians, I engage in prayer and part of that is thanking God for all the gifts and blessings I have received. I even teach my children to do the same. We have family prayers before meals.
In one sense, it’s great that we have developed this practice. It’s become part of the routine. But that becomes a challenge too. We can take those blessings for granted. The prayers of thanksgiving become shallow and heartless instead of deep and heart-filled. That’s why it is important to slow down, to carve out time in our day to think deeply, to meditate, and to write. Occasionally we need to change things up and incorporate new methods.
I recently started using an app called Echo Prayer. I simply set it for 3:45 pm each day as a reminder to stop, reflect, and write down one thing for which I am grateful. In the midst of our busy schedules, this can be a very powerful thing. Some of the prayers may seem a bit silly (Pittsburgh Steelers victories), but some are major triumphs (the emotional and behavioral progress of my kids). The important part is to get them all down in writing. Deliberate practice is key. The app doesn’t matter as much. It could be done as a simple reminder in the calendar or clock portion of our phones.
The practice of gratitude helps me to break out of the drudgery and routine of the day. It brings fresh perspective and peace in a day and time when life brings us a barrage of things to be worried about. Like I’ve said on social media recently:
Worry and gratitude cannot coexist.
I don’t want to live life in a perpetual state of worry, confusion, and ingratitude. I want to live a dramatically different life. One that is founded and grounded in hope, peace, love, joy, and gratitude. I’m not there yet, but I am making progress every single day — little bit by little bit, step by step. It helps to have so many people around me who are on this journey of thanksgiving. These stories bolster me. I am thankful to all who contributed and to all who read this post. I hope it helps and encourages you as you develop the habit, skill, and practice of gratitude. It really can change your world.