Find Hope with Gratitude
Theresa Polley
November 14, 2023
November 27, 2023
Self Care

My gratitude practice has changed my life even more than my yoga and meditation practice. Gratitude allows me to keep going, even when it feels like everything is falling apart.

Practicing gratitude is as easy or as complicated as you make it. You can practice for a few minutes a day. It can be done anywhere. No special clothes or props needed. A gratitude journal is nice, but not necessary. If you can make gratitude part of your daily routine you’re more likely to stay with the practice.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. ~Melody Beattie

I began practicing gratitude after my divorce over 10 years ago. I was struggling with an overwhelming sense of loss and feeling like I had failed. I was losing my life as I knew it - losing my home, my sense of safety and stability, financial security and my husband (who I couldn't stand at the time - but still). A friend encouraged me to write down what I was grateful for. It was recognizing the small things in my life (what I took for granted) that got me through the difficult times. 

Gratitude allows us to find happiness within, instead of seeking to be fulfilled by something outside of ourselves. Take a moment each day to state – privately or publicly – what you’re grateful for has proven scientific benefits to the mind, body and spirit.

A study found that people who focused on what they were grateful for felt 25% happier and more optimistic about the future than those who focused on stress or events in their lives.

How to Practice Gratitude

  1. Gratitude Journal - Use a notebook, journal, piece of paper or simply a list in your head. Practice everyday at the same time to get into the habit. For instance - with your morning coffee or tea, on your commute to work or before you go to sleep. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Gratitude Whiteboard - Perfect for a family or for a daily reminder to practice gratitude. Hang in a prominent place and add to it throughout the week or month. Start again the next week or month.
  3. Gratitude Photo Album - Create a photo album on your phone titled "Gratitude". Add photos of people and places you're grateful for. Continue to add photos you take.

Gratitude Prompts

  • What skills or abilities are you thankful to have?
  • How is where you are in life today different from a year ago? What changes are you thankful for?
  • What activities and hobbies would you miss if you were unable to do?
  • List five body parts that you’re grateful for and why.
  • What do you take for granted about your life?
  • What foods or meals are you most thankful for?
  • What elements of nature are you grateful for and why?
  • What part of your morning routine are you thankful for?
  • What is something you’re grateful to have learned recently?
  • What is a challenging situation you’ve overcome? Can you be grateful for that experience?

Benefits of a Daily Gratitude Practice

  1. Better physical health. Gratitude helps reduce blood pressure and contributes to overall health. Gratefulness may encourage physical wellness through activities like yoga or other exercise and annual well visits to the doctor.
  2. Better psychological health. Focusing on what you're grateful for can reduce the experience of toxic emotions like anger, resentment, and jealousy. Research suggests that gratitude increases feelings of happiness and reduces depression and anxiety.
  3. Better sleep. When you're grateful, you're able to sleep better at night. A general reduction in stress brought on by a shift toward gratitude for what you have (rather than longing for what you don't) helps minimize feelings of anxiety and sadness, thereby allowing more restful sleep.
  4. Greater self-awareness. Gratitude allows you a better understanding of self by turning inward. By keeping a gratitude journal, you dig deep to find something "new" to be grateful for each day. This peeling back of the layers of self allows deeper insight into your deepest self.

There’s no right or wrong way to practice gratitude, but in the spirit of the season, the best time to start is now! Be kind to yourself as you begin the process; it might not happen every day, but over time you may find it’s part of your routine. Whether you journal first thing in the morning to give you perspective on your day or to help you wind down in the evening, know that you’ll be rewarded with benefits that feed your mind, body and spirit.

A gratitude practice really does turn what you have into enough. As you grow in your gratitude practice you’ll notice a definite shift. In your perspective, in your relationships and in your life.

At Retreat in the Pines gratitude is part of everything we do – from each yoga practice to Sunday morning's outdoor Gratitude Meditation to our closing Gratitude Brunch (guests take turns sharing what they're grateful for). Discover gratitude as part of our  retreat community.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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