“Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes,” writer Annie Dillard wrote in her beautiful reasoning for why a generosity of spirit is the greatest animating force of creativity. As the days grow darker and colder, the practice of gratitude has been on our mind here at The Alchemist’s Kitchen. It’s no secret that gratitude makes any day better– even the science is beginning to prove it. There have been over 26 studies done recently that show how gratitude makes you happier, more resilient, and more satisfied overall. So, how do we cultivate this quality in our lives?
What is Gratitude?
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Gratitude can be an emotion, a mood, a practice, an expression of appreciation, a way of life. Everyone may feel and show their gratitude in different ways, but it is an emotion that all humans share. Science tells us that practicing gratitude can lead to an increase in overall well being.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the University of California, is a leading scientific expert on gratitude. In his research, Emmons concludes that those with a healthy gratitude practice report benefits including:
• Less aches and pains
• Increased desire for health self-care
• Better sleep
• Increased positivity
• More active and alert
• Increased feelings joy
• Increased optimism
• Increased compassion
• Increased social interactions
• Decreased feelings of loneliness
How to Practice Gratitude
Developing a daily gratitude practice is a great habit to start, especially this during this season. The practice you develop will be as individual as you are. There is no “right way” to feel or express gratitude. Appreciation can equally be found in a subtle but reassuring smile or in an extravagantly beautiful thank you card– or in the countless other ways we express this emotion.
If you are looking for some ideas to cultivate more gratitude in you life, here are a few suggestions:
Taking a few moments everyday to write in a gratitude journal can be very rewarding. Make a habit of writing in your journal every morning or perhaps keep it with you and write things down throughout the day as you notice them. No matter when you use your journal, you will be sure to quickly see how much you have to be thankful for in your everyday life.
The words we use communicate how we see the world. Do you view the world from the perspective of appreciation? Remembering to say please and thank you sound like small and maybe childish reminders but they actually play a big role in our mind-set existing in gratitude. The words we use also communicate to those around use how you value them.
Reciting gratitude prayers is another way to invite extra appreciation into your life. Gratitude prayers can be said silently in mediation or even out loud to yourself in moments of frustration when you want to shift your attitude. You can write your own prayer or use something simple such as repeating the words “I feel gratitude”.
The Alchemist’s Kitchen Community’s Responses
We asked you, The Alchemist’s Kitchen Community, to tell us how you practice gratitude, and we were blown away and inspired by your responses! Here are a few of our favorites, but it was difficult to choose!
By writing small things I’m grateful for in a special gratitude journal every morning
Every morning upon awaking, I speak the words if the things I am grateful for.
Practicing meditation and learning to slow down and actually think about what I am grateful for
Gratitude is probably the most liberating aspect of life. I practice gratitude through meditating or intentionally thinking about the beautiful parts of life. Gratitude for me is an internal process that I’ve found to be necessary for well-being.
I have a morning gratitude practice that begins with a reading and then a visit to my altar and then I begin with myself and send appreciation to all the things my body does right for me each day. Because I live with CRPS and chronic pain, this is very important!
Words (spoken & written), gifting and assisting as often as inspired to do so. A favourite quote: “Join me in the pure atmosphere of gratitude for life” ~ Hafez
Breathing deeply to remember each time my lungs fill is a gift from Mother Earth. Extending thanks to the people in my life who constantly support, encourage and love me well. Giving my body rest and recognizing all that she does for me.
By telling my loves how they make the world a beautiful place, by saying thank you often and by exclaiming my love for the natural world.
I practice gratitude by writing in my journal every morning. Reflecting on a couple of things each day keep you in the mindset.
I practice gratitude when I smile, laugh and care for myself, no matter what the day brings. I also make sure to tell my son and husband how much I love them everyday.
I practice gratitude by being present as often as possible. It is when I stop distracting myself with the past or present, with lists and chores; when I simply notice how incredible this world is and what a blessing my loved ones are to me.. it is in these moments that I experience true gratitude.
By expressing it in creative ways from music, to art, to dance and then giving that to someone I love.
This holiday season, we hope you find many ways and many reasons to practice gratitude in your life. Feel free to comment below to let us know how you’ll be cultivating this magical quality this month!
For ideas on how to show gratitude for others, check out this gift guide from our staff!