When life is hectic, you may know it is important to feel gratitude, but you're so busy you just forget. And how can you feel more gratitude if you feel exhausted and overwhelmed? Well, you are alive, you are thinking about gratitude, and that's a start.
Awaken your awareness. When we are anxious or under stress, it is easy for our minds to get so wrapped up in our to-do list that we don't notice anything else going on around us. If you've ever started driving somewhere, made a few turns automatically, then realized that you are not headed where you wanted to go, then you know how easy it is to let auto-pilot take over our lives.
Becoming more aware takes a little conscious effort, but the rewards are great. You start to see beauty where you may not have noticed it before. You hear sounds, you feel the breeze, and you can realize how many things there are around you to be grateful for.
Practice being present. Sort of a stage two of awareness, being present means focusing on each thing you are doing, looking people in the eye when you talk, and really listening to what they say.
When you are truly present with people, it is easier to realize how important they are to you, and how much communication with them means. You learn how to feel more gratitude for those around you, and appreciate how fleeting our time together can be.
Soak up the good times. When you experience moments that make you happy, don't be too quick to run off to the next thing on your agenda. Stop for a bit and give all your senses to the moment. Take in all the goodness you feel, and try and feel gratitude welling up inside you until it fills you and overflows. Then your feelings of gratitude can linger a little while longer, and you can approach the rest of your day with fresh eyes.
Express gratitude and praise directly. Feeling gratitude is a wonderful way to start the day, but your gratitude will grow faster the more you express it outwardly to people who deserve your thanks.
On a recent trip, I visited a restaurant where the food was extraordinarily good. When the waitress came by for the routine check that things were fine, I asked her to specifically tell the chef how superb my entrée was. Not a huge gesture, but a sincere one. Later she came back and told me how much the chef appreciated what I had said, "It really meant a lot."
How often do we miss opportunities to show gratitude that would mean a lot to someone? When we do our own gratitude grows. I left the restaurant grateful not just for an excellent meal, but for the experience of people connecting, of a little more harmony in my life.
Reflect on your day with a grateful heart. I've never been good at the habit of journaling before bed, but writing down what we feel grateful for each day is helpful to a lot of people. Even without a journal anyone can review the day and give thanks for all the blessings we have received. If there were unhappy or stressful moments, be thankful that you made it through them, and are a stronger person because of what you have overcome.
The more gratitude we express, the more thankful we feel. In a world of vicious cycles, isn't it good to know that positive thoughts and feelings grow the more we feed them. When you feel grateful for each day, the more good things you will see, and the more your gratitude will grow. It doesn't matter where you start. Just find something to be grateful for and you will feel more gratitude every day.
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