16 Sep Practicing Gratitude
In our last post, we spent some time reviewing the research of Dr. Brene Brown, specifically as it pertains to shame and vulnerability. One way to counter the harmful effects of shame, and to lean into vulnerability instead of numbing it, is to practice gratitude.
What Makes Gratitude Such a Powerful Tool?
Gratitude has two underlying assumptions, but we usually just focus on the second one: Yes, gratitude means that we’ve received something that we want. However, it also means that we are allowing ourselves to want something in the first place. Instead of pretending like we don’t need or want anything from others, we’re acknowledging that desire, which is inherently vulnerable. Gratitude can’t exist when we pretend that something was “no big deal.” That’s why gratitude can counter our misguided attempts to counter vulnerability. Instead of worrying about losing it, instead of discounting how important something is, or numbing the intense feelings that come when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we’re focusing on what we DO have, admitting to the vulnerability of desire, and allowing ourselves to rest in joy.
Gratitude also counters the idea of scarcity, which is the idea that there is never enough. Scarcity can make us think that there is never enough time, love, comfort, power, money… whatever it is that we keep running after. It can also make us believe that we are not enough; not pretty enough, safe enough, good enough, successful enough, or certain enough. Gratitude forces us to take a good look, not at what’s lacking, but what IS there, which changes our mindset in a huge way.
Gratitude can lead to healthier relationships, better physical health, better mental health, better sleep, and the power to have confidence in ourselves and in our dreams.
How Can You Practice Gratitude?
Just like anything else, though, gratitude doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes we need to work at it, consciously and purposefully, before we start seeing the benefits. So what can you do to practice gratitude in your life? Here are some daily exercises that you can start:
- Start a gratitude journal, and write in it every day
- Call up someone who has shown you a lot of love and support, and tell them thank you
- Do an act of kindness
- Volunteer to serve people in your community
- Compliment others
- Instead of checking your phone when you have some dead time waiting in a line, count your blessings in your head
say thank you every time someone does something helpful at work (and mean it)