Last year during the holidays I began my annual Gratitude List, which I keep in journal form. Each night I'd write a few lines about what I was grateful for. Somedays the list was long, other days is was short. It's an activity I've enjoyed for several years, and little did I realize it was about to change.
One night as I was writing in my journal the thought crept into my mind, “This is nice, it's something that is uplifting and inspires me, but couldn't this be more?” I wasn't quite sure what that meant and decided to sleep on it.
The next day the proverbial light bulb went on in my head. (Sometimes sleep has a way of clearing out the ol' noggin so useful info can find it's way in!) Keeping a gratitude journal is nice, but it seemed like writing a birthday card to a friend and never mailing it. So I began expressing my gratitude. The first couple of nights I found myself creating a gratitude “To-Do” list. Things I wanted to express my gratitude for and how I would do so. I found through this process that gratitude could be shared after the fact, yet there were other times when the moment had passed and so had the opportunity to express it in the way I desired.
As the days moved on my focus changed from recounting my gratitude moments at the end of the day to recognizing and expressing gratitude in the moment as often as I could. Not only did this make me feel good, I could see it meant something to the people I expressed it to as well.
I also found I was more:
- present in the moment
- grounded in myself
- positive and hopeful
- connected to my surroundings and all that was in them
- inspired by the exchange of positive energy that happened when I shared my gratitude
Yet it didn't stop there. I quickly discovered through this process that I was becoming more open and willing to accept gratitude from others. Boy doesn't that feel good! If I was experiencing this I suspected others were too.
How often does someone share gratitude they have for you or something you did and you hear yourself saying, “Oh really it was nothing”, or “No problem, think nothing of it.”. Or perhaps you even quickly change the subject to avoid accepting it. When was the last time you smiled and said “Thank You”, completely open to accepting 100% of their gratitude without deflecting it?
Keeping a gratitude journal turned into a much more powerful experience than I imagined. It gives me a powerful key to joy, manifestation, and awareness of all the good that is happening in the world around me. It's created a powerful cycle that keeps the energy and rhythm of gratitude alive in my life. A cycle in which there's always some to give and some to receive.
The cycle is simple and yet profound at the same time. Here are the 3 easy steps:
1. Recognize – Create awareness of what you are grateful for. Notice the moments, events, and people who spark a feeling of gratitude in your heart. Take time to be in each experience and notice the warmth in your heart, the butterflies in your stomach, the ripple of feeling good that washes over you, or any other way you become aware of gratitude.
When beginning this practice it's often easy to start by setting aside some time for reflection. Recall the events of the day and the moments of gratitude that stand out.
Many find the practice of keeping a gratitude journal a good way to create this habit. Through creating awareness and recognizing gratitude you'll discover:
- the ways you personally experience gratitude expands and is multi-faceted
- the things you are grateful for are more numerous and varied that you thought
2. Express – Take time in the moment to express your gratitude. There's no better time than NOW. Gratitude expressed in the moment has the greatest impact.
Sometimes the moment passes, or in reflection we realize how grateful we are for someone or something. If you find the moment has gone, send a card, text, email, or give them a call. This simple act often means more than you realize.
You might also send out a silent expression of gratitude through prayer, thought or energy to the individual, event, or situation. Do what you feel is appropriate for the situation. This step will strengthen:
- your relationships
- your connection to the world around you
- being grounded and present in the moment
- make you both feel good!
3. Receive – An important step that often is overlooked! Receiving gratitude is nourishing on all levels. The more you receive the more you have to give. Without receiving it, it's like feeding your family and friends, but never feeding yourself. Receiving gratitude is as easy as saying “Thank You” or opening your heart and feeling the gratitude expressed fill you up.
Creating a cycle of gratitude changes your life. Consciously applying these steps will release old energy and beliefs, open doors and opportunities, and support you in attracting great things into your life! Each step in the cycle turns gratitude into an action word, combined they create an unstoppable cycle of high vibrational energy. You've likely heard that the energy or vibration you send out is what you get back, just like a boom-a-rang. And it is true!
Ready to start? Or perhaps add to your already existing gratitude practice? To make it easy I've created a Gratitude in Action journal sheet you can download. Turn gratitude into an action word in your life and enjoy the consequences!
How has the action of gratitude changed your life? The life of others? Share your stories in the comments below and put gratitude in action now!