either sending a few last emails, playing a game, updating our social, or checking our Sleep Number app to make sure the bed’s on the right number? And then when we finally close our eyes, we’re restless or can’t shut off our brains, or we wake up in the morning just as tired?
How would our sleep be impacted if we drifted off into dreamland with thoughts focused on all the wonderful things we have to be grateful for? And what would the next morning be like if you woke up feeling rested and at peace, with a smile on your face and gratitude in your heart?
Having a strong gratitude practice means you are opening the doors to more things to be grateful for. Your thoughts are magnetic so the more you say thank you, the more you have to be thankful for. If its still not sinking in, think about it this way: what you feed grows. If you are watering a garden of negative thoughts, reinforcing scarcity and survivalist thinking, you are just attracting more of the same. And the opposite is true as well - the more energy you put into living in a state of gratitude, the more you’ll notice positive changes in your relationships, health, peace of mind, wealth and ability to make an impact. You are quite literally creating more and more to be grateful for.
I walk a lot. It’s one of my favorite ways to bring movement to my body. And depending on my route, I could be walking by schools and churches, through different neighborhoods, or local shops. For years, I was stuck in this rut - I kept my head down and all I focused on was the trash. It was like I only had eyes for the garbage and I’d spend my walks being pissed me off at lazy-ass people who couldn’t pick up after themselves. It got to a point where my walks where just infuriating and I actually wanted to move.
After a rather aggravating walk one day, I came home feeling so antsy to get out of the neighborhood. I carried that energy into my house and started complaining to my then husband. And in an instant he seriously put me in my place. He grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and although I’ve traveled the world on my own and my family lived through several wars in Hungary, I’ve never lived in or been exposed to long term to poverty the way he or my family had. He just looked at me and very calmly pointed out how ungrateful I was and that he was tired of hearing me complain.
This was a moment in my life that began to seriously shape the way I view the world and my place in it. I have no right no complain. About anything. I have, instead, absolutely everything to be grateful for.
Although all my greatest teachers and mentors have magnificent and profound things to say about gratitude, I deeply value how Dr. Joe Dispenza frames the meaning and purpose of it.
Again, this is a different way of framing the idea of “what you feed grows.” The more you are thankful, the more you have to be thankful for. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and I have seen it show up in the most magnificent ways in my life. In fact, my gratitude practice has become so refined, I often feel like a master manifester, attracting things to me in unexpected and brilliant ways, allowing me to life fully and purposefully and with intention. Try some of the exercises below and let me know how it goes! And feel free to adapt them to suit your needs…
Next time you are near a big window, focus in only all the smudges, fingerprints, marks, scratches, etc. See if you can really hone in on all the blemishes on the glass, the framing of the window, and so on. What happens to your energy? What thoughts come up? Take note but don’t pass judgement.
Now, look through the glass and gaze at the objects on the other side. People, plants, trees, store fronts, public art pieces, nature, cars, bikes, animals - whatever it is, gaze intently upon them and think about the effort and energy it took to bring those things into existence. Whether human- or nature-made, these items were thoughtfully engineered and serve a brilliant purpose - to make us laugh or smile, to provide transportation or shelter, to bring us joy or pride - everything has the potential to brighten our day or make life a little easier. Again, ask yourself, what happens to your energy with these observations? What thoughts come up? And remember to take notice without judgement.
Then ask yourself, which way would you rather live? Focused on the mistakes and blemishes, never satisfied with what is around you? Or in a state of gratitude, realizing the beauty of life around you?
If you are trying to manifest something in your life or fulfill a deep desire you have, then focus on a very clear vision of that thing. Get as detailed as you can - from sight to sound, from smell to touch. Get really clear on the feeling this thing will bring to your life. Now, here’s the critical piece: be grateful for it BEFORE it comes to be. Thank God, the Universe, your mother, or all of the above. And, as Dr. Joe says, “the longer you linger in gratitude” the more likely it is that you will attract this vision into your life.
The simplest way to bring more gratitude into your life is by saying thank you. Chance are, you can think of 5 people right now that you could express some gratitude to. So do it! Spend $5 on a pack of thank you cards and sit your beautiful butt down and write some gratitude letters. Or draw them if your supposedly bad with words. It doesn’t matter how long or detailed or fancy or wordy it is. Just do it. And pay attention to how your energy shifts through the practice. When you’re done, ask yourself how can you emulate that in other areas of your life?
Every night when I lay down to sleep, I take deep conscious breaths. On the inhale, I think about what I am grateful for and on the exhale, I release what no longer serves me. Sometimes, I super-simplified this practice and looks like this:
Inhale: Thank You.
Try some of these out and let me know what shifts for you!
How do you practice gratitude in your classroom, office or gathering space? How do you talk about or incorporate gratitude into your work with kids? If you’re not doing much beyond Thanksgiving, here’s a few simple ways to make gratitude a regular part of your environment and culture:
This could be a simple space with a sentence starter: I am grateful for… You can leave a little pad of paper or notecards and a pen close by or tacked up on the wall so anyone can make a comment and pin it up. Wanna get fancy? Make it a barren tree with lots of long branches, cut green paper into the shape of leaves, and stake it up near a jar of fun pens or markers. Make it your group goal by the end of the year that the tree is full with leaves of gratitude!
At the end of each week, wrap up the week by having everyone say one thing they are grateful for. You could do the same in reverse and have it be the way you start off your week together!
Have a few minutes to spare or need a brain break? Pair up a few students and have them battle it out - compliment style! The winner is the one who has the best compliments for the other person or can keep going when the other one has run out of ideas! You can offer a few sentence starters to get them going:
I’m grateful to you because…
You’re awesome because…
Thank you for…
You’re really good at…
I could list out quite a few things here but someone did it for me! Check this out:
65 Gratitude Resources: Books, Apps, TED Talks and More - complete with book titles and videos for kids, meditations, stories, podcasts, apps, even puzzles and quizzes! It’s seriously ONE STOP shopping in the Gratitude Department!
But to make things more personal to my own gratitude journey and teachers, I would recommend anything by: Dr. Joe Dispenza, Lisa Nicols, Jen Sincero, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, or Thich Nhat Han. Tony Robbins is up there too, as is Richard Branson and Brendon Burchard. From the perspectives of neuroscience, spirituality, high performance habits, leadership, meditation, personal growth, business mastery, and professional development…these teachers ALL have something to say about gratitude and how it impacts our abilities to live rich, full, compassionate and abundant lives. Dig in, y’all!