“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart.
I was on a card buying-spree one day at a favorite cafe, and decided to buy the card above for myself. (On a side note, if you don’t buy yourself cards from time to time, I highly recommend it.)
I bought it in celebration of a longstanding practice that has helped me build a tremendous amount of strength. Five minutes, twice a day; gratitude.
Lots of us pray, either intentionally or absentmindedly. We send up our intentions, desires, frustrations, petitions. But while it’s often been said that worrying is like praying for what we don’t want, gratitude is the practice of noticing what’s wonderful about life and saying “thank you” in advance for all the blessings on their way.
If you’re ready to start a gratitude practice, a few notes:
- Gratitude isn’t pretending crappy days don’t happen.
Having a grateful heart doesn’t mean we never feel sadness or disappointment; it means that we don’t dwell in those places. Just like building physical strength allows us to get back up, building a gratitude practice into our days helps us “get back up” when things are feeling difficult. In fact, there are many difficult things we can feel grateful for in hindsight, because they’ve helped more clearly reveal who we are.
- Gratitude is acknowledging all that’s good where we are right now.
It’s like the burpee of spiritual practices! Everyone knows if they do it, it will help them build tremendous strength, but…complaining is easier. It’s easier to notice what’s missing sometimes. When we commit to daily gratitude it starts to become second nature. We begin to feel that warm fuzzy glow of appreciation automatically, and with simpler things.
- A gratitude practice can be a creative practice as well
You can spend a few minutes writing a list of things you are thankful for, take a photo and share it on Instagram, send a text of appreciation to a friend…whatever feels best for you. What all of these things have in common is that you aren’t just sitting and reflecting; you are expressing your gratitude out into the world and making something new. By sharing your thankfulness in a world where many people are in the habit of expressing only complaints, you are changing the world.
When we shift into a attitude of appreciation towards our lives, we stop postponing our joy and feel that childlike wonder at even the smallest blessings in our lives.
Want to join me in building your gratitude muscles a little more this month? Let me know how you’re practicing gratitude in the comments!
Kate Bartolotta, editor-in-chief