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Gratitude

Ila Gartin

Starting or ending each day with gratitude WILL change your life. I know, that sounds like an outrageous claim for something seemingly insignificant. But it’s true. Taking time to reflect on your day and focus on the positive moments – the times you truly felt a tug at your heart, recognizing how lucky or blessed you are – THAT will start to change your mindset and changing those thoughts is the first step to making a tangible transformation in your life. 

So, how does it work? What do you have to do to start this snowball down the hill? It is so very simple. Grab a scrap piece of paper and your kid’s sparkle marker. Better yet, dedicate a notebook or pad of paper to this practice so you can look back at all you have to be grateful for. At the same general time each day, write down three (or more) things you’re truly grateful for. 

I know, I know, you want to write down your home or your spouse or your job, don’t you? Those are awesome things to be thankful for, but you could write those same things each and every day. Think smaller and simpler. 

What happened yesterday that made you truly thankful for just a moment? Was it that amazing cup of coffee you had at Starbucks? Or was it the barista who was so friendly? Or the sunrise you watched as you drank it? The total stranger who smiled at you? Or the sunroof you had open while driving to work? The hot water in the shower? Cuddles from your kids or your pets? Or the soft blanket you used during those cuddles? The gorgeous deep green color (that is my FAVE) on the moss near the back door? The ability to grip a pen while preparing for your gratitude practice? Seriously, the simpler, the better. These have ALL been actual excerpts from my gratitude notebook. 

We want you to LOOK FOR these small, simple, grateful moments each day. Becoming aware of the ordinary, everyday events, objects, and experiences that bring you true joy and thankfulness throughout the day shifts your mind’s focus. As you begin to concentrate on the things that are happening that make you feel grateful, you tend not to notice the little shitty things that happen. When you know you’ll be writing down 3 or more things from today that you’re grateful for, you start to look for them ALL THE TIME.

Personally, I write down 5-6 things I’m grateful for each morning. These are always things that happened in the last ~24 hours. I choose to write them down in the morning because it starts my day with a grateful heart and it reminds me of how blessed I am. You may choose to practice gratitude in the evening, which is completely fine! Do whatever works best for you. Or you may choose BOTH! No matter what, there is no wrong way to do it. Try different ways and times, finding the best situation for you. 

So, what do we gain by practicing gratitude? Why even start doing it in the first place? Get ready, because these are some powerhouse benefits! Grateful people have better physical health as compared to other people. They tend to experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier overall. Not only that, but happiness is increased and depression is reduced! Negative emotions, such as frustration, regret, envy, and resentment are diminished for those people practicing gratitude. As well, aggression is decreased while empathy is enhanced. We are better able to understand another’s situation and have compassion for them. 

If that wasn’t enough, sleep is improved, as studies have shown that grateful people sleep better and longer. In addition, self-esteem is improved and social comparisons are decreased. We are better able to appreciate the accomplishments of others instead of becoming jealous or resentful of their achievements. Finally, stress is reduced and our resilience is improved. We become better at overcoming trauma and significant negativity if we practice gratitude. 

Whoa. Seriously!?! Let’s be grateful for all those life-changing benefits! Grab that G2 gel pen and write it down, friends!

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2 thoughts on “Gratitude”

  1. Avatar

    Thanking God for you! This is HUGE! Ann Voskamp has written in her book One Thousand Gifts (& materials that accompany it) about this transformative activity. She made me aware that in scripture thanksgiving always precedes the miracle! Research supports what you say & I have seen it impact students & colleagues @ school , in church & in my own heart!♥️

    1. Ila Gartin

      Wonderful that you’ve seen such an impact with gratitude! I honestly didn’t think it would change my outlook much, but decided to give it a try. It took a few weeks and a few tweaks to how I approached it, but the change in how I felt, how I viewed all things, how quickly I could let go of the negative, and how much more joy I experienced daily was pure affirmation that having a gratitude practice makes such a difference!

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