I had been having one of those super off-, inner-critic driven days where part of me just wanted to cut and run, to bail and start over in another easier life. After a long day with lots of evidence to confirm my critic’s chatter, I arrived home to a letter from a good friend from graduate school. We were close but aren’t great at keeping in touch so I thought it was perhaps just a little hello note. To my surprise, I opened the card to find a note with a ‘tithing to those who I feel spiritually fed by’–a check expressing her gratitude to me for my impact on her life and her connection to source.
Wow! Her expression of gratitude could not have come at a better time. It stopped my critic in her tracks, helped me get out of my contracted, ego-based space and connected me to a sense of something greater, to community, to appreciation, to wanting to pay it forward, to my own gratitude for my dear friend and her impact on me. I am worlds away from the space I was in 30 minutes ago, just as a result of this small gesture. I often forget the impact of gratitude on the receiver and the momentum it creates to continue the practice, whether you’re sending energetic gratitude or actually speaking your gratitude aloud or in writing–super powerful! So here are some ideas for a gratitude practice, inspired by my dear friend, who I’m so grateful for:
1. Send a gratitude tithing. Let someone know they have touched you, inspired you, supported you on your journey. This could be in the form of cash or a check. A gift certificate. Treating them to dinner or tea. Some other gratitude offering with an explanation of the offering, let them know how they have impacted you.
2. Speak your gratitude aloud. Notice when you choose not to express gratitude due to awkwardness or weird social normalcies. Let a stranger know that their smile brightened your day. Let the barista know that you really appreciate the care that she put into making your coffee just the way you like. Notice how others brighten your day and let them know!
3. Daily written gratitude practice. Take a few minutes each morning or evening to jot down some things that you are grateful for. Let them be specific to your day or to the present moment. See if you can really access the feeling of gratitude. Close your eyes, feel what it feels like when you connect with a sense of appreciation, take it in. You can do this aloud too! For example, ‘Gentle breeze, I am so grateful for you, you remind me that things are always moving, that I am supported, and that new things are coming my way.’
4. Gratitude notes. Similar to love notes. Let people in your life know how they’ve impacted you, either in small or big ways. You can sit down and spend a chunk of time writing people notes or you can write a quick note when you have a few free minutes. Could be email, Facebook, hand-written, snail mail. Could be long and detailed or short and sweet. ‘I appreciate you!’
5. Practice self-gratitude. You can also practice this aloud or in writing. I like to place my hand on my heart and take a deep breath. When you feel that settled, open-to-receive space, say aloud or silently, ‘Thank you’ and really mean it, notice what it feels like as you take it in. Say it as many times as you want. This can also be done with eye gazing in the mirror.
These are some ideas to get you started but I would love to hear your ideas for gratitude practices!
Suggestion: Try one of the practices above and notice how you’re impacted. How does it impact the rest of your day?
Affirmation: ‘May we connect with our gratitude’