Practising gratitude is nothing new, people have been doing it for years. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something we’ve all managed to take on board. The science makes sense. See the good in your day or in your life and see your day and life change. For the better.
But how can you practise gratitude and what benefits does it really bring? Laura Farrington of Irish Yoga Girl shares her experience. And some expert advice on how we can all start practising an attitude of gratitude.
Why I started
“My first real encounter with a daily gratitude practice came about four years ago. I was in a very sensitive emotional place in my life. My father had just passed away – very suddenly – which in-turn prompted me to leave my job. I was struggling with every kind of relationship (family, friends romantic) and everything just seemed grey and grim. For the first time in my life, I was in a rut I could not seem to get myself out of.
“I felt so alone and couldn’t seem to shake the fog that was following me around. I’m definitely a future focused person, which results in bouts of anxiety that I need to manage through meditation or yoga. But this was probably my first experience of depression. Both anxiety and depression are emotional roller-coasters in different and complex ways and differ from person to person.
“I decided to seek help in the form of a CBT therapist who specifically dealt with people suffering from anxiety problems. It was evident why I was both depressed and anxious and this is where the discussion of a gratitude journal crept in. My therapist was keen to get me to research the theory and start practising an attitude of gratitude.
“At that time I struggled to come up with three things I was grateful for. Which when I look back now is crazy as I had so many remarkable things to be thankful for in my life – I just couldn’t see them.
What I did
“I was advised to purchase a journal and start listing five things I was grateful for every morning and evening. Long-term change takes time and are a culmination of small habits practiced consistently. After 10 days of consistency I started feeling slightly better. My negative outlook started to shift to a more positive one.
“Six months later I had four notebooks full to the brim with everything that I felt grateful for and I was feeling a hell of a lot better. A year later I was realizing what a gift life is. How every breath is something to be thankful for and how incredibly blessed and lucky I am to have my health, running water, clothes, friends, family, a home etc.
What I noticed
“Practicing gratitude daily brought balance to those parts of me that were attached to suffering. Gratitude changed my attitude and helped me to stop feeling victimized by life. Most importantly gratitude made me happier. I realized all the beauty that was in my life and how blessed I was.
“It is important to honour those times in life when you are suffering from grief and sadness but lingering in those emotions for too long can be dangerous. Gratitude is an expression of love. The more I practiced an attitude of gratitude the more love and opportunity came to me. It shifted my whole outlook on life.”
Tim Ferriss recommends taking five minutes in the morning and evening and answering the below questions or statements.
In the morning ask yourself
- What I am grateful for…
- What would make today great?
- I am…
In the evening ask yourself
- What three amazing things that happened today?
- How could I have made today better?
Consider four different categories when writing down your gratitudes otherwise you will go on auto-pilot and possibly start to repeat things.
- An old relationship that really helped you or that you valued highly
- An opportunity you have today. Perhaps that’s just an opportunity to call your parents, go to work, exercise etc…..
- Something great that happened yesterday
- Something within sight!
- This is a Tony Robbins recommendation. It shouldn’t be all career and abstract items. Balance it out with something from nature, a beautiful cloud etc…
Laura Farrington is a yoga and fitness trainer and founder of Irish Yoga Girl. For more information, visit irishyogagirl.com