Has anyone ever told you how to be happy? Take a second to just think about it. We’re never really taught how to be happy. No one shows up and says: here is the lesson for happiness in life. Because happiness is defined differently for everyone. But at the root of happiness is a habit that helps you find joy in all situations. It’s the thing that teaches your mind to see everything that’s going right instead of drowning in everything that’s going wrong. So today, I’m going to share to how to practice gratitude in your life, my morning gratitude routine and how adding this one habit can completely transform your life.
We as humans tend to overcomplicate sh*t. I find this more so with my creative friends. We get stuck on the hamster wheel of ideas and around & around we go. But with social media, it can also feel like we’re in a space of constantly seeing the things we are lacking. We’re more aware of the things we don’t have than the things we do.
For me, Hurricane Michael had a major impact on my gratitude routine. Spending 3 years helping my mom as caretaker for an 88 year old was also part of the foundation for teaching me how to practice gratitude. At the end of the day, what you find you’re thankful for will always be about perspective. I don’t often think about the fact that I can walk, drive myself anywhere I’d like to go or fully take care of myself as things I should be thankful for. But when we are able to get perspective and remember the little things, we’re able to find joy in things we’d never considered as a privilege before.
Today, it might be your health, the sunshine outside or that you had 5 minutes of peace and quiet. You might be thankful that you have healthy food in the fridge, a family you’re getting to spend more time with or a dog who loves cuddles. So often we wish for things and forget to see the beauty in them when we get them in our lives. Don’t worry about over complicating it. The important part of learning how to practice gratitude is creating the habit of finding things be to be thankful for no matter the size.
Ask Yourself What You’d Be Thankful For If You Removed XYZ
There are plenty of things I’m sure that we would be thankful for on a daily basis if they were removed. It can be hard to see our privilege when it’s become our norm. So if you’re struggling to find things to be thankful for when you’re learning how to create a gratitude practice, a great question to start with is: what do I use on a daily basis? And how much more difficult would my life be without it?
An example might be your refrigerator. You have power and a working fridge. So when you want ice or to keep your food fresh for a few days, you don’t think twice. But what happens if you take one of those out of the equation? What if you could only keep a small portion of food good for a few days and needed ice daily to keep it fresh?
I promise if you take the time to look at everything you use and do in a day, you’ll quickly find that you have so much more to be thankful for thank you realize.
Set A Reminder
When I was first learning how to practice gratitude, I used my journal time as my daily check in. Now, it’s become a part of my wake up routine. But creating a habit takes time. So if you need a little extra help, pick a cue for yourself or set a reminder.
You might keep a post it on the steering wheel in your car to encourage yourself to practice gratitude. If you find you’re really struggling to find joy in your job or just want to start your day in a happy headspace, I highly encourage this! It might mean setting an alarm on your phone to do it while brushing your teeth. Or maybe you practice gratitude while your coffee is brewing in the morning. The most important part of learning how to practice gratitude is getting intentional with setting the habit.
Write It Down
There’s such a power in taking your thoughts from mind to page. They suddenly become more than just what’s floating around in your head. It doesn’t have to be in a journal. Although we will talk about how I use that as a part of my gratitude practice in a second. You could opt for a note in your phone. Or you could even share them on instagram. I share mine each morning to A. remind myself to do it on the days I don’t manage to journal and B. as a visual aid for my community. Sometimes it helps to just have a reminder to get out of your own head.
The other great part about writing down your list when you’re learning how to practice gratitude is that you have something to look back on. You’re continually growing and learning. So even if you think that you haven’t come so far, you can see through months of writing just how much you’ve changed. It’s amazing to have that perspective!
Start With 5 But Don’t Limit Yourself
Most days, I find I start with 5 things I’m thankful for. It’s enough to get me into a positive headspace but not so many that I feel negative about the fact that I can’t come up with more ideas. However, there are days, especially during this season, that I find I need to remember how to practice gratitude repeatedly.
When you create the habit of practicing gratitude, you train your mind to find the good. You teach your brain to feed the happy emotions. Side note: our bodies become addiction to the emotions we experience so it’s super important that we are mindful about the ones we are feeding with our thoughts. (Read: Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza – he breaks down the science of emotions). So on the days when you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, lean into this practice of creating joy and just keep listing things to be thankful for until you can trigger that happiness. Because sometimes we need to remind ourselves to be happy when we are looking to create a more joyful space in our lives.
My Morning Gratitude/Journal Routine
Now I’m a big believer in sharing how I do things because while what works for me might not work for you, it might inspire you. Sometimes we just need to get out of our heads about things. Ya know? I’m obsessed with the Ban.do notepads for my journal. You don’t have to hold the page down to write. And they come in so many cute colors! So here’s what my morning journal/gratitude routine looks like:
I love this prayer and have been speaking into my life for over a year now. Along with actually focusing on what I’m thankful for, I like to focus on the things I’m calling into my life. It helps me hone in on things. There’s a book that walks you through it that I’ll link as well. It’s so good!
My Gratitude List
Most days, there are 5 things on my gratitude list. Depending on the week, they could be the same things every day. Water, coffee and Asher end up on the list regularly. But the thing about learning how to practice gratitude is being able to get in touch with WHY you’re thankful for those things. Sometimes we get into a rhythm of just listing things off for the sake of having a list.
Whether it’s me posting my list on instagram or writing it in my journal, I like to note why I’m thankful for those things. Water – because I never realized that having running plumbing was a luxury until I didn’t have it. Asher – because he is always making me laugh or forcing me to be more joyful. Coffee – because it’s almost rare to just sit and enjoy a cup of hot coffee. And when you do, it’s a nice way to slow down. Learning to practice gratitude is amazing but when you can really hone in on the why behind what you’re thankful for and how much it matters, it changes your mental space.
I find I’m the happiest version of myself when I’m focused. I need a thing, project or something to work towards. I have no issue with working hard. But I find I like really dig into things and keeping myself focused is major. There are 10 goals that are on my list daily. Some will be accomplished in the next month some in the next few years. The idea behind this is that it’s easier for me to define what I’m say yes to and what I’m say no to because I know very clearly what I’m working towards.
Stream Of Consciousness
Now while I’m all about gratitude, I’m also happy to let my brain have space to think through problems. It might be random words or it might be me processing emotions. However, for me taking my thoughts from head to page helps me move forward. I also find that it’s much easier for me to clearly communicate what I want or need in a situation once I’ve had time to journal. I’m no longer just reacting. Journaling gives me safe space to discover how I’m feeling, why I’m feeling that way and how I need to communicate those feelings. Am I reacting to something because I expect someone to know something I haven’t told them? Is there a particular thing trigger my emotions? There’s no rhyme or reason to this portion as it’s really all about just letting my brain play.
I love affirmations for many reasons but one of the big ones being how they help you change your thought patterns. We are always hearing stories, sharing them or believing them. But for many of us, we’ve believed stories for too long that we probably need to change. Affirmations help us to overcome longstanding beliefs and lies. I have SO many on my Pinterest boards. But they are also a regular feature of my Instagram stories. If you need some new ones, I’d highly recommend checking both those spaces.
There are always things I’m calling into my life. Whether it’s growth for WSS, things I’m praying will happen for my friends & family or just general hopes for the future, there’s always some prayer in my day. So to end my morning journal time, I like to pray. I ask for the things I want to happen and try to also use this as a time to check in with myself about what I’m personally doing to make those things happen. We only have so much control in our lives. I think we’re currently being reminded of this daily. But miracles are also possible. And you can’t get what you don’t ask for out of life. Prayer is one of the ways I ask.
Alright friends. I hope that wherever you are in the world right now you’re safe and finding joy in your day. And as you’re working through how to practice gratitude, remember to also practice grace. You didn’t learn all of your habits overnight. It takes time to learn new ones. You’ve got this! Sending you all the love and positive vibes. Xoxo, Savvy
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