Building A Gratitude Practice

Have you been hearing a lot about gratitude lately? Sometimes when life feels hard, gratitude can feel so forced or far away.

Let’s explore it from a different perspective… starting with a small appreciation.

A few weeks back my husband and I sat down to reflect on the year that had passed, and to think about what we wanted to bring into our life in the coming year. #corny? #YOLO! 

These conversations, these moments to pause, are so incredibly empowering. 

Why? Because we’re all pretty busy. We all have a lot going on, many things we want for ourselves, relationships to navigate. We all have responsibilities. We all get stressed and have things not go our way. 

And taking time to pause to think about the bigger picture can be an important anchor to come back to when life leads you astray. 

One of the things we talked about was regularly savoring all that we do have, all that we are already (both collectively and individually). This was a practice I started a few years ago and I’ve watched how it’s transformed my mood, energy, and how I feel in life and throughout my days. 

I call it… an appreciation practice. 

We hear a lot about the practice of gratitude. Gratitude has tremendous research supporting how helpful it can be for your mental and emotional health. I also totally understand how challenging it can feel to be grateful in the hard moments. I certainly don’t want you to feel the push of unhelpful, toxic positivity that may encourage you to deny how you’re actually feeling. 

In comes the appreciation practice…

Appreciation is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. (Definition from Oxford Languages)

We can appreciate the big and small things. Like the first sip of your morning coffee in a moment of stillness, the smile of a stranger you ran by or the meaningful conversation you had with a loved one. It’s the everyday moments. 

By starting a regular appreciation practice, you’re training your mind to notice the everyday good moments and savor them. This may help to combat the negativity bias, to change what your mind is subconsciously searching for, and to improve your experience of presence and joy in your days. 

Who doesn’t want more of that?! So try it out. Take a pauce. What are 1-3 things you can appreciate from your day today? And if you want to keep the momentum going, try this practice 1x/day for the next 3 weeks to see if anything changes for your mood or mental health. 

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