Me, a morning person? Nooo way! Many of us know the feeling. I sure did. In the past I’d snarl at everyone who’d try to talk to me before the first cuppa coffee. Today my days start with joy because of one simple morning ritual you can easily incorporate into your morning routine too. The first thing I do when I open my eyes is to think about the things in my life that I am grateful for. I call this my practice of Gratitude Attitude and I usually keep it between one to three minutes during which I will hold images in my mind such as my darling husband, my loving family, my feisty little dog, my good health, the birds singing in the trees outside, the delicious leftovers in the fridge from last night’s dinner and anything else that gives me a feeling of happiness and awakens my senses.
Ideally, while looking at these images which form part of the kaleidoscope that is my life, I get flooded with this warm, buzzy sensation inside, a gratitude not only in thought but a feeling of deep appreciation that vibrates through my entire being. And when I’m able maintain this for a few minutes, that’s it, I have reset my outlook for the entire day, encountering it with an Attitude of Gratitude. My mood and how I will react to the things life throws at me will be vastly different. Over the years I have tried all kinds of different ways of practicing gratitude: from gratitude journaling, to positive thinking, to filling a vase with little notes of what I’m grateful for. They all work and you may find one more suitable for you and your lifestyle than others. Whatever form of practicing gratitude speaks to you, I highly encourage you to make it a part of your daily rituals. I promise you, it will change your life in a profound way! Not only short term, but long term as well: practicing gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve your brain by strengthening neural pathways that make you happier. Meaning, you are literally rewiring your brain and actively becoming a creator of your life experience in a positive way.
Granted, even after a few years of practicing Gratitude Attitude regularly in the mornings, I don’t always automatically get into the space of warm, buzzy feelingness. Sometimes life, a long to do list that pops up in my mind, a noisy neighbor, a looming appointment, just gets in between. And because, especially during stressful times, it may not be that easy for some of us to visualize things we can’t physically see, touch, smell, taste or hear, I’ve found it a very helpful tool to use a small gratitude altar next to my bedside. On it I keep items that represent cherished people, things or experiences such as a picture of loved ones, a flower, a book of gratitude quotes, some chocolate to remind me of the yumminess of life, souvenirs from beautiful places I was fortunate to travel to, a beautiful item such as a crystal or a piece of jewelry. Anything that can help connect me deeply with the fountain of pure joy and life energy inside of me and which is deeply nourished by gratitude.
And on the kind of days, we’ve all had them, when even thinking “I am grateful for…” just seems too hard, I start with thinking “I am” and breathe deeply. I am, I am, I am. And that: I am so grateful for.
In Joy, Ariane