For Thanksgiving this year, Julie Potiker, author of “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos,” offers some easy tips on how to start a gratitude practice you can use all year long.
Thanksgiving feasts and time with family and friends inspire the deep gratitude that the holiday represents, but our gratitude doesn’t have to end there. Science continues to show us that being grateful has a positive impact on our lives. Here is an easy way to take the gratitude you feel at Thanksgiving and let it inspire you to start your own daily gratitude practice.
“A simple way to get started with your very own gratitude practice is to keep a journal,” says Julie. “Visit your favorite bookstore or craft store and pick out a journal that inspires you. Keep it by your toothbrush for easy access. Make yourself write longhand instead of typing on a device. The physical act of writing has more benefits for your neural health than typing on a keyboard.” But if typing on a keyboard is the only way you are comfortable doing it, type away! It’s better to type than not doing it at all.
- Notice times when you feel joy during the day. Take in that good mental state for a couple of breaths, allowing it to turn into a neural trait. What fires together wires together!
- Before you go to bed at night, answer these two questions in your journal: What are you grateful for today? What did you enjoy today?
“There’s no ‘right way’ to do these exercises,” Julie explains. “You can jot down one-word answers, write whole paragraphs, or even draw a picture. And your ideas don’t have to be monumental, either. They could be as simple as feeling gratitude for resting your head on a comfy pillow, the sound of rain against your window, or the perfect cup of tea. Writing down what you are grateful for or what you were doing when you felt joy will open your heart to more happiness. If you can recreate the feeling of joy in your body when you remember the activity that you are writing about and you let it fill you up with gladness, you are rewiring your brain for more happiness and resilience a second time from the same joyful activity!”
Start your gratitude practice today and check in with yourself in about three weeks:
- What positive differences are you noticing?
- How do you feel?
“With something this simple and effective at your fingertips,” says Julie, “there’s no reason not to start improving your experience of life right here, today.”
Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.