Gratitude is talked about a lot these days, and it’s easy to see why. I suspect it’s no coincidence that the subject is coming up increasingly at a time when the political and social backdrop is throwing up so many difficult situations and challenges.
Through evolutionary development we have a built-in negative bias - our ancestors who saw a snake rather than rope, survived.
But now, most of us are fortunate to live in a culture where danger is not so rife. That same evolutionary bias that helped us survive in the past is stopping us from thriving in the present. It shuts us down and makes us feel stressed and disconnected.
A gratitude practice allows us to counter that negative bias and put us in a better frame of mind. Gratitude allows us to open. When we are more open we are more able to see opportunities and possibilities rather than barriers, and we are also more able to connect with others.
When you hold positive thoughts in your attention, it’s hard - even impossible - to hold negativity at the same time.
So how can you set up your own gratitude practice?
It’s best to set aside some time at least once a day. Ideally, attach the practice to something that’s already part of your daily rhythm so it’s easier to remember. Perhaps when you wake up, or when you go to bed. I practice gratitude every time I sit down and eat.
Whether you write them down, speak them out loud or simply call to mind those things and people you are grateful for, the key is that you should only focus on positive things. That can be difficult when you first start, but it’s worth persevering.
By strictly focusing on the positives (e.g. what went well in your day), you’ll begin to challenge your in-built negative bias.You’ll open up and see more good in the world. You’ll see opportunities that would have been closed to you if you were only listening to that negative bias.
If you give this a go, I’d love to hear your experience. Hop on over to one of my Facebook Groups (you'll find my health and wellbeing group here, and my yoga and mindfulness group here) and let me know how it went or if you have any questions.