Gratitude is a Habit of the Heart
To those who celebrated, Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve been feeling extra grateful this week through intentional practice. Gratitude is a habit. A habit of the heart. The more gratitude I practice, the more and more I need less and less.
“Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience — the acknowledgement of the positive things that come our way that we did not actively work toward or ask for. The latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a given gift — and from this same root we get our word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.” – Angeles Arrien
I am reminded of the daily offerings I witnessed all around Bali. The photo above is of a woman who took a break to pray and give an offering in the midst of her work in the rice paddies.
The Balinese Hindu worship up to 24 times each day with an offering of flowers and incense, regularly taking breaks for gratitude and connection to something bigger than one’s personality. I can’t help but wonder if the relaxing vibe in Bali stems from these local habits that keep people connected spiritually and emotionally. I reflect on how we live in the West, and I can see that it’s easy to disconnect from one’s heart in the midst of the rush.
In fact, I’ve recently read been reading gratitude research by Angeles Arrien, a Spanish anthropologist. She posits that the pace and demands of modern life robs us of time and space for gratitude.
“Gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as a gift.” -Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk
It takes intentionality to foster a habit of gratitude.
Here are some ways to create the habit:
- Gratitude journaling: there are many different kinds of these journals out there. See which one suits you best.
- Establish a routine: It’s most helpful to do this before or after something you already do as a morning or evening routine. For instance, what if you made a pact to yourself that you can’t brush your teeth until you’ve journaled for 10-15 minutes?
- Gentle reminders: Through apps like “Yapp” (a current favorite for myself and several clients), you can get reminder notifications throughout the day on any message of your choosing. Try this one out: “Who or what am I grateful for right now?” And take the moment to bask in the gratitude.
- Gratitude meditation: Incorporate gratitude into your meditation practice. Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on all the things and people you’re grateful for.
- Verbalization: Practice expressing gratitude to others in real life! Tell your colleagues or teams what you most appreciate about them.
- Train your mind: Remember, your mind is a great tool but is not you. You can program your mind to focus on the positive aspects of situations rather than dwell on the negatives. An example is noticing all the acts of kindness that happen around you throughout the day that you may be missing.
Grateful for you being part of the Millennial Executive community. Thank you for staying on the journey with me.
p.s. New Years workbook coming soon