#AugustLifestyleChallenge, DAY 1, August 1st - Write a gratitude list. In the words author Melody Beattie, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Today, the challenge is to write a gratitude list. I want you today to begin a gratitude practice. Here is how:
- Write down 5 people in your life to whom you are grateful. Imagine their faces as you think about them.
- Write down 5 positives in the negative. Life is one big choice, success seeds disruptions, loving risks loss, creating risks failure. For example, adversity powers transformation. Look at your struggles as necessary hiccups or full-on face plants placed in your life to help you grow. What went right when things when wrong?
- Write down 5 pieces of gratitude in the mundane. This could be your comfy bedspread, the palm trees outside, 8-hours of sleep, or the aroma of your morning coffee. Cultivate gratitude for the simple things.
- Say thank you to 5 people who seek your help. By asking for your help, they improve your self-esteem and it encourages you to act with virtue. Also, research suggests it improves our physical and emotional well-being. Loved ones can be counted twice, because it’s a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving love.
- Write down 5 aspects of your life that you are blessed to have...for millions of others don’t have what you do. Think...food, clean water, children, friends, eyesight, a job, teeth, a healthy heart, a car, or a roof over your head. If these aspects of your life were taken away what would life be like? Fill up with gratitude.
***Be as specific as possible gratitude works best when you are able to find something tangible and real. Be grateful for your significant other for the lovely flowers they gave you on your birthday, for your coworker who greeted you with a smile yesterday when you needed it the most, the list will go on and on. Have fun!
Don’t forget to tag me (@lauramaryyoga) and #AugustLifestyleChallenge and your local supporters: @lululemon, @drinkjugolife, @noelanihawaii, @poweryogahawaii, @corepoweryoga, @bananbowls, and @dreamfloathawaii. Happy Day 1 of the challenge, I will post daily the night before!! Reach out to me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A gratitude practice does not mean that every day from now on is going to be roses and butterflies, no. It means that you will notice the abundant blessings around you and by doing so you will feel contentment (santosha) in the moment. Each of us has a happiness set point to which we will gravitate towards throughout of lives (Brickman & Campbell, 2013).
No matter how much we acquire or whatever feats we reach, you won’t feel lasting happiness. Our brain is wired to continue acquiring more, researchers refer to this as the hedonic treadmill. Others propose a model of happiness as a thermostat, where after we acquire something, our expectations adapt to the new state, and happiness falls back to the same level as before. Though research also suggests that this fleeting happiness has the benefit of keeping people motivated to incrementally seek higher goals, a gratitude practice can enhance the whole experience.
Practicing gratitude for what we have (even as we acquire more) helps your mind, moment-to-moment find happiness. Most strikingly, 40% of the variation in happiness is determined by intentional activities (Diener, Lucas & Scollon, 2013) aka a gratitude list. One of the simplest and most rewarding intentional activities you can do each day to increase happiness is...a daily gratitude practice. On an even more awesome note, happiness that originates in gratitude makes your loved ones happier (Amit Sood, 2013). Your efforts will multiply the effect for your whole family.
What are you waiting for? Start your gratitude list today!