1. Take Inventory
In taking inventory, the first things to remember is this; there’s ALWAYS SOMETHING to be grateful for. It’s just true. There always is.
Start with the basics. I’m grateful for my children. I’m grateful for my breath. I’m grateful for my wellbeing. I’m grateful for my home. I’m grateful for my dog.
When that’s not enough, remember that every complaint is a request. Where you voice a complaint, or someone else voices one to you (“The financial news is so bad!”) there’s a request underneath it (“I want to feel more secure about my finances.”) Find the request, and let the complaint go. The more completely you’re able to release the complaint, the more easily you can move into responding to the request.
This next tactic for taking inventory is a drastic and potentially dangerous step, which can sometimes call up guilt or pain for some of us compassionate types. But it’s a good reminder; when all else fails, think of what others don’t have. And then count your blessings for the abundance you have in your own life.
You could consider this a version of the Tibetan Tonglen meditation – breath in pain, transform it within, and breathe out peace.
Release your own suffering. Remember; it’s so minuscule in the larger scale. Then perhaps we can move on to creating more abundance in the world.
See How to Grow a Grateful World for more on how to go about moving our own gratitude practice into the world. That article is available in the Gratitude Games Pro Package (http://cli.gs/ggpp), but you can also get it by signing up for my E-Zine at www.lasarafirefox.com.
2. Make a Gratitude List
You can make your list clean and pragmatic – I do one in my text edit program sometimes, just to shift my mood in the middle of a work project – or you can make it pretty, and put it up somewhere visible as a constant reminder of the things you’re grateful for. You can also create a gratitude list that’s a work-in-progress, pin it up on your fridge or cork-board, and add to it whenever something grand comes to mind.
If you like a public aspect, you can add your own Gratitude Blog to the quickly growing on-line gratitude presence- the electronic webs of interconnectivity that are rapidly creating networks and nexus of gratitude sharing and witnessing.
Whatever type (or types) of gratitude list you choose, enjoy the process of watching the list grow as you remember more and more things you’re grateful for.
Always state your gratitude in the positive. Turn “I’m grateful it’s not raining today” into “I’m grateful for this sunny day.” Turn “I’m glad we didn’t get kicked out this month” to “I’m glad we have this home.”
Why? Because focus is everything. If you say “I’m glad we didn’t get kicked out this month,” you’re thinking about the possibility of being kicked out…next month? This is likely to create a stress response – the opposite of what we trying for here!
If you say “I’m grateful for this home,” you get the feeling of gratitude, not only for the fact that you have a roof over your head, but this very roof! See? There! How much better does that feel? That’s what you want to achieve – that feeling of safety, gratitude, warmth, grace.
3. Commit to Action!
Choose at least three of the things on your list, and make plans – ones that you’re able to immediately implement – that will increase the experience or presence of those three things in your life.
The plan can be directly related to the list item; like, if you’re thankful for running, schedule in running.
Or, the plan can be more loosely related. If you’re grateful for your kids, you can schedule some quality time, or you could write them a gratitude note, or you could give them some sort of special gift.
Whatever your action plans are, a) make them easily within reach, and b) things that make you happy when you think about them.
If you follow those two basic guidelines, you’re sure to follow through. And according to science, completion of tasks increases the happy-chemicals in our brains. So, you get rewarded over and over again, for taking just a few simple, and ideally joyous, steps into a more grateful life.
LaSara Firefox, MPNLP, is a coach, author, and educator. Her latest project, Gratitude Games, has been featured in media internationally. LaSara Firefox helps her clients find balance in their lives, and alignment with their personal and family-held values. If you’d like a fun and easy way to cultivate your gratitude, get Gratitude Games! More info at www.gratitudegames.com, or www.lasarafirefox.com.LaSara Firefox, MPNLP, is a coach, author, and educator. Her latest project, Gratitude Games, has been featured in media internationally. LaSara Firefox helps her clients find balance in their lives, and alignment with their personal and family-held values. If you’d like a fun and easy way to cultivate your gratitude, get Gratitude Games! More info at http://www.gratitudegames.com, or www.lasarafirefox.com.