TOOLS, RESOURCES, AND CONTENT
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HOW TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
BY CHASING GRATITUDE
Welcome back to the RS Blog! Today we are going to dive into the topic of gratitude. Many of us think about gratitude during the holiday season. Here in the US November is full of people sharing gratitude in the ramp-up to Thanksgiving. I want to make a case for practicing this daily instead of annually, and hope you will follow along with me as I explain.
WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
Gratitude is a term we often hear tossed around and basically, it means a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Coming from the south, this is an important part of the culture. For most big moments in life from sickness to the birth of a new baby, a neighbor will appear at your door with a casserole of some kind. It is a common occurrence to place a hand-written thank note inside the dish when you return it. Sometimes it is even returned with a new item cooked in it. Now, I get this is a southern thing, but it is a practice of gratitude where you return kindness.
THE MONOTONY OF SURVIVAL
Many women today are so mired in the mundane they miss the beautiful moments tucked into the day-to-day. We need to become women who see the magic of ordinary days by focusing on ways to be grateful – even in the hard seasons. This will require us to come fully alive and present in our story as we discussed in episode 21 of my Coming Out Gold Podcast.
We need to wake up and see how monotony can hijack our lives. It keeps us asleep in our own story. For most of us, busyness keeps us from being present in our everyday moments. Our mind gets so focused on what is next, we cant absorb the beauty of what is right now. It is wrong to miss the priceless moments found within the beautiful lives we are living.
GRATITUDE SETS YOU FREE
I understand what it is like to be caught in the stress and monotony of every day. The heaviness of responsibilities leaves little margin for practicing gratitude. Let’s face it: It is hard to chase gratitude when you are busy chasing your tail. After my life imploded, learning to look for ways to be grateful amid heartbreak kept me present. And let’s be honest it is in those really hard moments where finding things to be grateful for is an uphill climb. But if you are chasing gratitude in every season, your attitude changes. It shifts and the hard things become less hard.
Gratitude sets us free because it helps us reframe a situation. We can acknowledge what is happening so we aren’t dancing with toxic positivity or burying our heads in the sand, and we can also be thankful for small moments within the storm. Remember, we are living an “and also” life so we can hold space for more than one thing to be true at a time.
BLESSINGS IN THE BROKEN
While reading Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 gifts, I learned to seek gratitude in some areas of my deepest pain. She taught about logging gratitude daily with a goal to count 1000 things you are grateful for in your life. With practice, I learned to find something to be thankful for in every season. This practice helped me to be grateful for being knit in the womb of a broken girl because it helped my heart sync to the broken hearts of other women. Prior to chasing gratitude, I believed myself to be unloveable. Now I understand it was the part of my journey that built my passion for working with women who have walked through fire. It is the fuel that drives me to help women see beauty in themselves and their lives so they come out the other side solid gold. If gratitude can help me reframe pain and give me a new purpose, I believe you practicing it will do the same in your life.
STAGES OF GRATITUDE
Before we dive into how we are going to chase gratitude, let me define the stages of it I found while researching this episode. Stage one was defined as feeling grateful for the good things in your life. To me, this is the easiest step because good things make us feel good. Feeling good often creates a natural pause to be thankful. In the second stage, we begin to express our gratitude to the people in our lives who have made it better. Again, those feel-good emotions make it easier to express them to others. The third stage is where change happens. Here we are able to adopt new behaviors and habits as a result of all the good feelings. It’s a natural by-product of being in a relationship with those who have helped us and made our lives better. These stages are easier to move through because they are all rooted in positive experiences and seasons.
Being grateful when those good feelings are absent is a harder habit to instill. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to most people when challenges come our way. Chasing it down in the rock-and-a-hard-place seasons requires a habit of seeking it. Today I want to give you my two-step process to help you begin chasing gratitude.
HOW TO CHASE GRATITUDE
Step one for chasing gratitude is to bookend your day by physically writing down your blessings. Using a journal, your notes app, or your platform of choice, I want you to start and end each day writing 3-5 things you are grateful for. Morning gratitude can be focused on what you get to do that day. They could also be for what you are feeling at that moment. Evening gratitude can be focused on what you had the privilege of doing or experienced. You may be grateful for what missed you, like a bullet you dodged metaphorically speaking of course.
In step two, we are searching for gratitude in hard places. When you are feeling frustrated or annoyed, stop and find something to be grateful for at this moment. This search often disrupts the patterns and deescalates the emotions you are experiencing. It allows you to take a breath and evaluate the truth of a situation without the intense emotional charge. If you are in the midst of a storm and life feels bleak, chasing gratitude is vital to you coming out the other side gold. This often requires you to use the world’s largest magnifying glass so you can find something. Do it. Look hard. Fight to find some light in the darkness, because even the smallest sliver of light will help dispel the darkness.
WAYS TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE
The practice of keeping a daily journal where you count your blessings is for you. If you write three each morning and another three each night, you will count over 2,100 blessings in a year. Imagine how that could shift your attitude. If this practice could have such a profound impact on your life, imagine what would happen if we were all expressing gratitude to the people around us. The attitude shift would ripple outward bringing significant change to our community.
Sometimes we need some tactical examples for how we can express our gratitude to others. Because I understand this, I want to provide you with a short list of tactical ways you can do this with ease starting immediately. Here are some ideas:
- Say thank you. It is the simplest way to express gratitude.
- Send a text message to tell someone how they have positively impacted your life.
- Write a note of encouragement to someone going through a hard season.
- Encourage others by telling them what you see in them.
- Dedicate a day to showing gratitude by making eye contact and speaking a word of kindness to everyone you meet.
It honestly takes far less than we imagine to make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t miss an opportunity to see and acknowledge others. We can’t assume people know what we are thinking and feeling. The simple act of looking someone in the eye and saying, “thanks”, changes things. Lean in and be a part of that change.
SCIENCE BACKS THE PRACTICE
Most of us have heard of the chemical dopamine. It is the brain’s feel-good chemical. Dopamine gives us that rush of pleasure we get when something wonderful happens in our lives. Science has proven that practicing gratitude boosts the level of serotonin in our brains and activates the brain stem to produce dopamine. By bookending your day with gratitude, you are making yourself happier and healthier. When you share with others how you are thankful for them, you help them to be happier and healthier. This is a win-win here emotionally and physically.
Practicing gratitude improves your attitude. You learn to find blessings in the broken. Light seeps into the darkest moments and helps you find your way. Another bonus in this practice is you begin to see the good work you have done each day. We need to celebrate our wins! The daily habit of chasing down gratitude also cements positive memories in your mind. Make this part of your daily rhythm and watch your attitude transform.
THIS ISN'T ABOUT TOXIC POSITIVITY
We often talk here about living an “and also” life. Chasing gratitude is deeply rooted in that truth. This is NOT about toxic positivity. It is about acknowledging reality and being aware of all that is transpiring and also choosing to be grateful for something anyway. Awareness is the foundation of my coaching program so I would never want you to turn a blind eye to what is going on.
To help you, I have created a free download with two options for journaling this daily. You can grab that down below. If you have any questions or I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am here to help!
Until next time, remember, I am in it WITH you, always,
Grab your free journal pages to help you chase down gratitude.
Ready to add counting your blessings to your daily routine?.
Use these to help get you started!