Carrying Your Gratitude Practice Forward
What is gratitude? What does it feel like? What are its benefits? And why is it important in a wish practice? These are the questions we are frequently asked and would like to address as we carry forward with our wish practice.
What is gratitude? The answer may seem obvious and manifest as a simple “thank you” when someone shows you kindness. But when you take the time to immerse yourself in the feelings and benefits of gratitude, you may find a very personal way to bring more joy into your life.
The example we just gave could be called “responsive gratitude;” someone does something, we feel grateful, and we express it by saying, “Thank you.” We want to expand on that thought with “implicit gratitude,” which, for us, is being mindful throughout our day, consciously and actively looking for the objects of our gratitude in our everyday lives.
We wrote about gratitude last year as we were beginning to emerge from “post-pandemic life.” We still like what we said then:
For us, it means many things. It’s the feeling of appreciation or thankfulness. It’s expressing thanks to another person for an act of kindness or support. It’s “paying it forward” or “giving back” to people and organizations that have helped. It’s taking a moment, and being mindful of your surroundings and all that you have in your life. And it’s saying a prayer of thanks to whatever spiritual being you believe in.
What does gratitude feel like? Some of the feelings we notice when we are living in our gratitude practice are the seeds of happiness, humility, hope, a sense of trust, and a sense of community. All of this, for us, amounts to the ingredients of joy.
What are the benefits of a gratitude practice? We firmly believe that positive thoughts coupled with positive feelings bring our emotional state - our “vibration” - to its highest level, which is how we match ourselves to the universal vibration that delivers on our wishes. Today, we know that science supports our belief with facts that positivity has an array of mental and physical health benefits as well.
So why is a gratitude practice important to a wish practice? Barbara puts it this way: “I used to be pretty negative about a lot of things. I ‘woke up’ one day to the fact that all the negativity was keeping me down, preventing me from accessing joy and allowing the Universe to deliver on my wishes. On reflection, I realized I needed to infuse my entire life with the elements of wishing, most especially gratitude.”
This is a critical point. Wishing doesn’t work if it only occupies a small corner of our living. For us, the practice of wishing includes a well-rounded way of life that keeps us balanced and strong. This begins with gratitude for what we already have and for what we know the Universe will deliver. Then we can open ourselves more fully to understanding and inviting what really brings us joy.
What can you do to kickstart your own gratitude practice? You can start with the idea of “carry it forward.” Say “thank you” to someone you encounter in your day. When you say “thank you,” be as specific as you can about the good in your life this person facilitated. For example, if you see the mailman when you are out running errands, stop and say, “Thank you for making sure we’re getting our mail delivered! I really appreciate you!”
Some people are reluctant to offer thanks for something they argue is just part of a person’s job. “Of course he’s delivering the mail. It’s his job to do so!” Let us help you reframe that! Isn’t that taking for granted something that would be missing if the person didn’t do it reliably every day? That is certainly worthy of thanks in our estimation.
There are different ways to implement a gratitude practice. Here are some we like:
Start with a simple meditation bringing to your attention the air, the light, the earth, and all that is good in your life
A “gratitude meditation” - expand on the above to bring to your attention all the people, things, places, activities, services, etc. for which you are grateful
Sunday Challenge - this is a weekly practice throughout the year
Create a “gratitude party” - either virtually or in person, gather friends and acquaintances to show up and show appreciation for one another
Keep a gratitude journal or a simple list and be sure to look back occasionally at the abundance a year has brought
We would love to hear from you, especially any new ideas you have about bringing gratitude into your life or if you have any challenges you would like to share and receive some help.
Next week, our post will be brought to you by the letter “K” for “known.”
Peace and All Good
Margie and Barbara
The Wish Mavens
The photo featured in this post was taken by (and is copyrighted by) Margaret A. Herrick.