Weekly Ponderings #26: Do this ONE thing and change your life.
Happy Sunday friends!
I don't know if it's because of the full moon energy or what, but my heart has been feeling incredibly full this week, more so than usual. I haven't always been this way so I did a little self-discovery to better understand why and how I got here. If I have to pick one recent thing that's had the most profound impact on how I feel every day, it's my daily gratitude practice.
I'm sure you've heard from multiple sources that practicing gratitude is important. Studies have shown that it can reduce depression, lower blood pressure, increase energy and happiness, help you sleep better, improve your health, and more. To be honest, I never really believed how one simple practice could be so powerful, until I experienced it myself.
Here's how it started:
A couple years ago I started writing down 5 things I'm grateful for every morning. I don't write down the big stuff, like family, my home, my health, etc. Instead, I focus on the little things that happened in the previous day that brought me joy. Something that made me smile or laugh or just feel good.
When I started doing this, it was a simple, reflective exercise, and I'd feel good in that moment as I journaled (thanks to the serotonin and dopamine). But as I've continued doing it almost every day for two years, I can now see how this one practice alone has completely changed my mindset and how I experience day-to-day life.
The biggest changes I've seen from writing down 5 things I'm grateful for every morning are:
1. I live more in the present. Because I've been doing this every day for awhile now, I've trained my mind to feel grateful in REAL-TIME. For example, this week after work one night I was hanging out with a few co-workers, but most importantly, we were laughing...a lot. Even though it was just 10-15 min, it felt so good to laugh and share stories. This is the type of thing that I'd typically add to my gratitude list the next day (which I did), but I was able to recognize in THAT MOMENT how lucky I am to work with such amazing people that I genuinely love spending time with and make me laugh. This type of real-time gratitude has taught me how to recognize and celebrate the daily pleasures of life with more appreciation than I ever had before.
2. I'm more resilient to the stresses of the day. By starting out my mornings with gratitude, it puts me in a positive frame of mind and and gives me a calmness that continues throughout the day. I also usually pair my journaling with a chai latte at my favorite cafe, to intentionally start my day off with something I love and that brings me joy. This morning routine helps me feel grounded and sets me up to be more resilient to the stresses I encounter throughout the day.
3. I have more energy. I believe it takes more energy to be negative than positive. You know when you're mad at your partner, and you want to stay mad because you're stubborn, but it takes more energy to stay mad than to let it go? Maybe that's just me...but that's how I feel about gratitude giving me more energy. I'm no longer wasting it on low-vibe feelings like anger, resentment, jealousy, etc., aka emotions that bring you down and suck up your energy.
4. I'm happier. My default state of being feels like it's shifted to an overall state of contentment and acceptance. My co-worker told me this week that when she's stressed out sometimes she sees me and thinks I have my shit together. Which is absolutely crazy and false, because I definitely do not. Of course I still get stressed, mad, sad, anxious, etc. But wayyyy less than I used to.
Humans are so good at finding reasons to be miserable, and a lot of it stems from clinging onto expectations of what you think life should be vs your reality. By learning to live more in the present and appreciate every single day, I think I've also started learning how to let go of expectations and accept where I'm at today and to be more at peace with myself.
Now I know gratitude alone isn't responsible for all these changes I've experienced. Our bodies and minds are incredibly complex and interconnected.
However, I do know without a doubt that gratitude has played a HUGE part and I'm now a firm believer that this simple practice alone has the ability to change your life.
Hope you all have a beautiful week!