Using mindfulness to nurture a sense of gratitude
It takes quite an effort to develop a sense of gratitude, but the rewards can be surprisingly powerful.
Most of us have pretty strong negativity bias; a tendency to expect negative outcomes and to focus on what feels bad. But with regular mindfulness practice, it’s possible to nurture our inherent ability to feel more positive and to notice the small things that bring the tiniest glimmer of beauty into even the worst of times.
Practical tips for nurturing a sense of gratitude include:
A gratitude pause
Taking a few brief moments to stop and notice anything that’s OK in the present moment. It might be something as small as noticing that a negative feeling isn’t quite as bad as it was earlier, or maybe an appreciation of some small act of kindness by another, the sight of butter melting on a piece of hot toast or the beauty of the clouds in the sky.
Mindfulness of the body
Next time you can’t shake off those troubling emotions, you may want to try out this quick mindfulness of the hands exercise.
Close the eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.
Now turn your thoughts towards your hands. What sensations are there right now? Just take a moment to think about all the different activities your hands have engaged with today. They may have been busy preparing food, typing at the keyboard, cleaning, carrying the shopping….
Drop a silent thanks into the hands for all the tasks they’ve helped with today. Now is their moment to rest. Wish them well.
Remember, your body is always there for you.
Keeping a gratitude diary
At the end of the day, maybe take a few moments to write down three aspects of the day which you are grateful for. It may have been something as little as a smile or even the absence of pain today.
The more you practice this exercise, the easier you’ll find it to notice the positive things during the day, as you store them up to add to your gratitude diary.
Being mindful of the little things
We tend to think of life as being made up of big milestones and achievements. But in reality life is just a succession of small, everyday experiences. Regular mindfulness practice brings all sorts of unexpected benefits but one of the most rewarding is the way it helps us get the most out of any positive aspects of those day-to-day experiences. We start to notice things to feel positive about.
It’s all too easy to drift through life on autopilot, waiting for something good to strike out of the blue, without truly appreciating the here-and-now. You have the power to change that.