Attitude of Gratitude: Setting Intentions Series Part IV
Wow this month has flown by! I hope you have enjoyed reading and implementing new intentions with me this month for March’s Setting Intentions Series! Today the last of the Top 4 intentions that I see benefit my clients when they SHOW UP for themselves and follow through. This month of Intention Setting has shown us how getting mindful and consistent can increase personal growth and hopefully how setting intentions in one area of living flows down through the rest of our wellbeing. This week, we are tackling the one of most important places to come from and intentions to set in my opinion.
Intention # 4: OBTAIN an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion into clarity.”
- MELODY BEATTIE
Gratitude isn’t just for giving thanks in the month of November. It has a ton of other benefits, especially when you practice it on the regular. There’s a plethora of reason why and there are books written about this but let’s look at what I’d consider the TOP TWO benefits.
1. Gratitude makes you happier.
A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. How can it possibly do that? Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career. Gratitude motivates improved DECISION MAKING and productivity. And any of you who work with me know that happiness comes from problem solving. :)
2. Gratitude also makes us healthier.
People who keep a gratitude journal report fewer physical symptoms, spent more time exercising, had less physical pain, and then didn’t just get more sleep but had improved sleep quality as well!
Why does this happen? The emotional response of appreciation induces a relaxation response in our bodies.
We physiologically can't experience fear, worry, overwhelm...at the same time we experience gratitude.
Isn’t that AMAZING?
Research studies show that a daily ACT of gratitude... ++ increases our ability to handle stress ++ decreases the stress hormone cortisol ++ calms fear ++ produces dopamine, serotonin, and mood enhancing chemicals ++ increases anti-aging hormone DHEA
Relaxed Bodies = Healthy Bodies. There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years!!
But here’s the thing: It’s like the Compound Effect for anything. Doing a small daily practice + extended period of time = greater benefits. Greater changes occurred slowly. It took several months of continuous practice for the largest benefits to appear.
This is for two reasons:
A) Cultivating gratitude is a skill. You increase the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command. With more time and practice, you can up the ante on the intensity and duration of the generated feelings to increase.
B) Gratitude is a personality trait. Some people have more grateful personalities than others. Daily gratitude practice can change our personality, but that takes a long time.
So what is Gratitude anyways?
If you GTS, The definition of gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Like most words, gratitude appears to have a number of different meanings, depending on the context. For example, gratitude has been conceptualized as a moral virtue, an attitude, an emotion, a habit, a personality trait, and a coping response. A number of researchers have defined gratitude as a positive emotional reaction in response to the receipt of a gift or benefit from someone. Gratitude has also been conceptualized both as a state phenomenon (i.e., an emotional reaction to a present event or experience).
For our purposes, we would like to define gratitude in a much broader sense. Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.
how do you set an intention to come from a place of gratitude??
If I asked you to list 3 things you are grateful for, you can easily to rattle off a few things that are important to you. I've got my go-to’s as well: husband, house, job and throw in a sunshine on my face + caramel macchiato latte for fun :)
But the thing is that when we are just listing we only get a snippet of that happiness in our list, and then we often go back to our to-dos, routines, worries, and 'someday' wish lists. Say What?!?
In order to GET INTENTIONAL to make a huge difference in how we experience our lives we need to create a Practice that includes TAKING ACTION (not just being).
Action = Time + Intention + Reflection
I believe one of the best ways to do this is to use a Gratitude Journal.
1. Choose Your Journal
What works best for you? Do you find that handwriting in a journal helps you slow down and connect with what you’re feeling? Or do you prefer the instant materialization that typing offers? Decide on a format that works best for your needs and preferences, and use it consistently. Personalize your journal - it reinforce your purpose and make you feel more connected to your purpose. ((HINT:: I use a planner/calendar so I don't lose track of my days!!))
2. Be Consistent
You should write in your gratitude journal every day, and preferably at the same time of day. Or at least on set days of the week that you hold yourself accountable for!! If you’d like to start your day on a positive note, write in your gratitude journal after you eat breakfast. If you want to use your gratitude journal to reflect after a long and stressful day, write in your journal just before you go to bed. Maybe its on your lunch break.. whatever works best for you!
3. Set your goal to Write at Least 3 to 5 Things
Decide on a goal for how many things you’d like to express gratitude for each day, but be sure that it is no less than three to five. — Maybe today is a day you can only come up with one! That’s ok too - there is no right or wrong way here!
4. Be as Specific as You Can
In the beginning, it may be hard to find things for which to be grateful, and you may be tempted to list — this is the part where you DIG IN. You’re taking the time to reflect, intentionally using her brainpower, and reflecting on what you are grateful for. Maybe it’s your Health.. Ok, What about it? WHY does your health bring you joy? Maybe it’s as basic as waking up today and breathing…ok, what does that give you? What is good about that? Things will come more into focus the more specific you get.
5. Turn Negatives into Positives
This is the Reframe. Transform your thoughts by finding the positive side of negative situations. Ok, maybe there isn’t a positive side.. but what can you learn from that thing that’s so negative. Instead of dwelling on whatever it is that isn’t working out – maybe a failed relationship, or financial hardships, or health problems – try to find a positive in those situations. What is your takeaway?
And here’s your added bonus challenge:
To REALLY get on the gratitude gravy train… set aside TIME to write a thank you card or love letter to someone. REFLECT on WHY you’re grateful for them and dig in. Get specific! How does that person add value to your life? What have they done to help you in the past? Even if you’ve been annoyed with them lately - Get Intentional. Write with your favorite color pen? Pick out a fancy paper to indulge in. Or just break out the college ruled and braindump. And an extra added super bonus.. SEND IT TO THEM! How many times do we miss our chance to show appreciation for those in our lives?!? AND who doesn’t love to hear how much someone values you in their life?! Make two people’s day today. Yours and Theirs.
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