Would you say you experience life to the fullest? Do you savor the moments and allow yourself to be present everyday? Maybe you’re wondering how it’s possible to feel grateful in your current situation. Let me tell you, you CAN feel grateful for what you have in your life AND extend your gratefulness to others, even if you’re hesitant or don’t feel worthy of it.
One of the quickest ways to get into a positive emotional state is to practice gratitude because it makes you feel that you have everything you need, or at least that you have enough. On the other hand, one of the fastest ways to lose out on feeling creative and inspired is to not be in a state of gratitude. Feeling grateful sparks new ideas and creativity from one of the most centered places.
I have developed a few gratitude practices that I use to return to a grateful heart even when there’s a lot of chaos going on. In a nutshell, learning to freeze frame the moment, feeling gratitude intensely, and turning gratitude into action are three simple ways to have more gratitude in your life.
Freeze Frame the Moment
There was a time a few summers ago when many of my dreams were coming to fruition. I remember trying to freeze frame that moment to remember it when I’m 90 as though it is a scene frozen in a cinema. In this scene, I am in this body that is 30 years old, the sun is shining, my husband is sitting next to me, and the water’s sparkling. I made a point to lock it in, to stop my brain and my mental chatter, and drop into the moment and appreciate all that was going on.
Another moment I locked in was leaving New York, conflicted and so heartbroken about leaving because I loved it so much but wanted to be able to set up roots near my family. I went to the top of the Rockefeller my last night in the city and I took a walk on the rooftop waiting for this moment of clarity to come – but it didn’t. Instead, I realized I wasn’t going to get closure or a clear answer so I stopped, looked out over the city, and paused. I reflected on so many special moments there. As I did, all I could feel with each memory was gratitude. It was a time of appreciation for all that had existed during my time in New York. It was like a synthesis of wrapping it all up with a thank you. For me, that was the best closure I could have asked for. As I think back now, I so clearly remember that moment because I was so intentional about pausing, taking it in, and experiencing it.
If you feel like there’s a lot going on or you’re just trying to grasp a little more gratitude, try freeze framing a moment. For example, when you’re driving down the road, look at what’s going on in your life right now and spend a moment giving thanks for it. Or maybe you’re at the gym. Freeze frame this age as the youngest you’ll ever be again the rest of your life. Look at your body, at what it’s doing right now, how strong you feel or how strong you’re getting. Or maybe you’re playing with your kids and it’s chaotic. They may not have everything perfect in their lives, but they know that you love them. Realize that they are at this age, for this one moment in time and freeze frame for 10 seconds.
There’s just something about pausing. It takes barely any time at all. Try it and I guarantee you will remember that moment 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now because you locked it in so deeply. Try setting an alarm to practice this once a week, once a day, or whenever it comes to you – it can change everything.
Feel Gratitude Intensely
There was a time I would list off five things I was grateful for really quickly and then check that box for the day, but I wasn’t really feeling gratitude. I was simply thinking of and noticing things to be thankful for. My practice of gratitude really changed when I started taking a moment to actually feel how amazing those things I listed are. For example, let’s say I wrote down my health as something I’m grateful for. Sure, I’m grateful to be healthy. But if I take that deeper and feel grateful for this body that doesn’t feel pain, can go on walks for an hour and to the gym, has strong muscles, feels comfortable, healthy, vibrant, and energetic, then that is a deep feeling of gratitude that takes me to an even better place.
I can write down that I’m thankful for my husband and although it’s true, how much more gratefulness can I uncover from thinking deeper. Then I realize how lucky I feel, how amazing it is to have someone that I can talk to for hours every night, how supportive, loyal, generous, kind, smart, and creative he is. Now that’s intense gratitude.
Ask yourself in what ways you actually feel grateful for whatever you listed and take a second to feel how amazing it is to have it. This might be your work, where you are in your career, how proud of yourself you are for taking chances, for starting something new, for saying no to something, for sticking up for yourself, or for being bold enough to try. Really lean into it and see what you come up with!
My gratitude practice was put on turbo boost and forever changed as I realized that gratitude is so much more than listing things and checking off boxes.
Turn Gratitude Into an Action
Something that I heard from Jay Shetty in a recent podcast is that he turns gratitude into an action by thinking of something that he’s grateful for and following up with that. For example, if he’s thankful for an opportunity he received for a speaking gig, he’ll message that person to say so. If he thinks of his wife making a nice dinner or he remembers a moment he enjoyed with her, his gratitude practice for the day would be to send her a text or to give her a hug telling her he’s thankful for her.
This practice of sharing gratitude creates many ripple effects of positive feelings in relationships. More opportunities are created to be grateful because people will think of you the next time because you’ve taken a second to acknowledge what they’ve done for you and lock that into their own experience. Your actions make others want to give more and more to you so you end up receiving more to be thankful for in a very genuine, positive, authentic way where you’re simply sharing your thanks with them. So amazing, isn’t it?!
The beauty of practicing gratitude is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. You can journal or do a stream of consciousness for five minutes writing about it. It’s amazing once you think of a few things, they beget other things. So if you can just breathe for a few moments into your heart or start to think of something that you are thankful for, even if you are in a hard season. Perhaps you’re just thankful that the sun came up another day, or that you have a bed to sleep in, or that you can buy yourself a coffee, or that you have a good meal, then all of these thoughts start to create other ideas of things to be thankful for. It’s just the nature of gratitude and getting into that feeling state.
Try these three simple ways to have more gratitude in your life and tap into your own power source for energy, inspiration, and joy any time you choose. By intentionally freeze framing the important moments, feeling gratitude intensely, and turning gratitude into an action, these will help bring you back to feeling like who you are by noticing the good in our lives.
Thank you for reading this and the fact that you took time makes me feel so, so grateful from the truest place in my heart.
Did this resonate with you? Listen to the full episode on The Bright Life Podcast—Episode 053: 3 Unconventional Gratitude Practices that Will Change Your Life.
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