By practicing gratitude we’re training our brain to always be happy and that’s such a cool thing. It’s amazing that we can overwrite the incessant loop of worrying about the past and future with a practice that keeps us grounded in the here and now.
For your gratitude challenge, choose a period of 3 days, a month, or a year. Because failures can be a downer, unless you’re certain you can do a longer period, you may want to start with the 3-day challenge. You can always extend it.
- Don’t just jump into the challenge blind. Plan your start date and prepare for it.
- Know Why you want to do it. What benefits might you get or would like to see?
- Let the people in your home know that you’ll be on a “sabbatical.”
- Have fun! Personal development is about growth, not sternness.
- Feel free to modify these challenges; do a 7-day challenge, if you like, for example.
The 3-Day Challenge
Be grateful the entire day… for all 3 days.
Be grateful for every and anything you can think of—no matter how small. When anything uncomfortable, painful, testy or just awful happens, try to find something in the situation to be grateful for.
- When you get up, as you head to the bathroom and while seated on the toilet, be grateful for a new day or whatever comes to mind.
- As you walk from the subway or train station to the job you hate, be grateful for the tree-lined block you’re walking down.
- Appreciate the craftsmanship of the gorgeous boots you’re strutting in. How nice is that leather? How fortunate that you were able to afford those boots when many (maybe most?) people can’t.
- Be grateful for the barista who makes the best cup of morning java in town that helps you wake up and feel human.
- Be grateful that you can put words together to craft the email you use to share your thoughts, information, fulfill a work request and do whatever you will spend your day doing.
- Be thankful for after-work cocktails, and
- Thank whoever or whatever you believe in…for having friends to share them with.
Repeat for the next 2 days!
The 1-Month Challenge
Pick a time of day — morning or evening — to write down 3 things you’re grateful for or to do a gratitude meditation.
You might enjoy this challenge more if you add a self-care routine like this one to it. Don’t forget to turn off all technology.
- Have a bath or do another self-care activity.
- Massage damp skin with scented oils after your bath.
- Spray lavender mist on pillows.
- Dim lights throughout your home at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Play soothing music in the background.
How to do a 5-minute gratitude meditation
Can be done either lying down or seated. Choose the position that will be most comfortable for you to be in for 5 minutes.
Lie down in the savasana pose (also known in yoga as corpse pose, which is lying on your back with arms to your side and feet shoulder-width apart) or sit in one of these positions. If seated, you may want to support your back.
With eyes closed and lips slightly parted, breathe from your stomach for about a minute and feel tensions in your shoulder and elsewhere ease.
Continue with eyes closed to recount the things that you’re grateful for at that moment, or for the day. Savor each memory — there’s no need to rush. Feel the appreciation with each breath.
Some people pick the top 3 things they’re grateful for, others go through their day and recount everything they’re grateful for.
Morning or Night? Many people (myself included) prefer to practice gratitude at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning. For me, it’s a great way to close out my day.
The 1-Year Challenge
Keeping a gratitude journal for a year can be a great resolution, and it can be a tool to help you stick to other resolutions.
A few companies and shops carry dated diary-style journals; I Love It All is one of them. Their 365 Things I’m Grateful For notebook is a 5-star bestseller and one you might want to check out. Of course, any pretty notebook can be used as a gratitude journal.
A couple good reads by Robert Emmons
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. She believes the way we live affects everything we do, especially our motivation.