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You’ve heard you should have a regular gratitude practice. Maybe you’ve even tried it. But how often do you really practice gratitude – and do you know how to practice gratitude most effectively?

Learn how to practice gratitude and why to make it a regular thing in your life in this rewind of an early Life & Law Podcast episode.

Because practicing gratitude regularly will help you to feel and BE your absolute best (something I think we all need more of).

Episode Transcript

[00:00:49] Hey there, everybody. This is Heather Moulder, host of the Life & Law podcast. And for those of you listening to this from the United States on the week that this one comes, happy, happy Thanksgiving. I hope that you have wonderful plans with family and or friends and that you have a very safe and happy holiday. 

Because this week is Thanksgiving, I wanted to come in here today and revisit an old episode – one of my early episodes. 

In fact, it’s the first episode I did for the week of Thanksgiving, and it’s all about gratitude – what gratitude is, how it truly helps with your mentality and your mindset and how to practice gratitude. 

And I’m replaying this:

  1. Because it was an early episode and many of you have probably not heard it.
  2. Even for those of you who have heard it before, I actually recommend you go back and listen. Because I do find that things like gratitude are things we often overlook. And sometimes we get into a habit of practicing it in a certain way and we forget why we’re even doing it in the first place. 
  3. And let’s just be clear and honest about what’s going on in the world right now. Things have been somewhat heavy lately and difficult, and I think there is a place for gratitude within our lives.

I especially want to note that this is not about positive thinking when there’s a lot of crud going on. It’s about something deeper than that. It’s about finding ways to be grateful, even through the very difficult times. Because there is always something to be grateful for. 

And the reason for that is so that you can show up as your best. Okay?

The world needs more of us to show up as our best. I truly believe that. And I hope that today’s episode helps you to do just that today, this week, and in the future as well. 

All right, that’s it for today. We will be back next week with a new episode, y’all.

***Rewind Episode***

We are talking about gratitude because gratitude can be life changing. I know that sounds probably a little hokey to you. Okay, Heather, how can gratitude really change my life? But I’m here to tell you that it can. And we’re going to get into that today. 

I picked this topic partly because it is Thanksgiving. Y’all, here in the United States, we are celebrating Thanksgiving, that is when this episode is airing. And so I thought it was appropriate since we are all giving thanks and having gratitude for various things. 

But I really want to challenge you to expand upon that and think about utilizing a regular gratitude practice within your life.

Today we’re going to get into the why and the how. 

We’re going to talk about:

  1. The science backed benefits of a regular gratitude practice, and ow it rewires your brain and hence can change your outlook on life. 
  2. Common misconceptions around gratitude that really hold people back from going all in.
  3. And how to start practicing gratitude right now. You’re going to be amazed at how simple, quick and easy it really, really is. 

And when I talked earlier about what I do, helping lawyers create a more fulfilling practice, the practice that they want, and you might think, okay, that’s great and all, but how on God’s green earth does that relate to gratitude, Heather?

Well, gratitude really can be life changing in the sense that it rewires your brain to look at life very differently. And when you look at life in a particular way, it changes your actions, right? Based on your outlook on life. 

I have talked about this before.

E + R = O

Event plus response equals your outcome. 

You can’t always have an effect or an impact on the events. Lots of things happen that are completely outside of your control. And frankly, even when you had some impact on the event itself, once it’s happened, it’s happened. 

But what you can do and have control over is your own response. And that is what we get at when we talk about mindset. It’s all in the response. 

Well, gratitude is one of those things that can really rewire your brain in a way that changes how you perceive things, which then affects the responses that you have, which then affect your outcomes. Right? So this is why I say it can be truly transformative within your life.

So no eye rolling, okay? 

I just want you to promise me you’re not going to roll your eyes and you’re going to fully and completely listen to today’s episode before you make up your mind. Okay? 

Before we get into the specifics of today’s topic, I’ve got a couple of housekeeping items for you. 

Item number one (join my self-care challenge).

If you have not joined the Get Reenergized Self Care Challenge, I highly recommend you do it. Especially at this time of year. 

We tend to be really busy around the holiday season. Year end can be crazy busy for a lot of practices. I know it was for me back when I practiced law. I was in a corporate finance practice and it’s a stressful time of year, for a lot of us anyway. 

We’re having year end reviews. Partners and shareholders are having compensation reviews. It’s stressful, right? And then you add into that the holidays and family and right now with the Coronavirus and people having differing things going on within their families and whether they can or cannot gather because of what’s been going on, it leads to a lot of stress. 

And so I would love for you to join my challenge. It is a seven day challenge, but it’s super simple. Y’all, you get one email per day for seven days with a lesson and a corresponding challenge. 

And the way this specific challenge works is it is organized to help you rewire and shift your thinking around what self care even is and truly simplify it so that it can be transformative in the sense that you can find very simple and easy ways to really prioritize your well being and take care of yourself as best as you can without feeling guilty about it. Okay? And also without taking a lot of time. 

Now, yes, some self care practices take up some time, but they don’t have to. And there’s a lot of things out there that you can do that take up very little time, and frankly, no time at all that you can couple with regular everyday activities that are already going on. 

That’s really what the self care challenge is about. It’s going to get you to shift that thinking and start expanding upon how you look at self care so that you can really start prioritizing it for yourself. 

And right now, in one of the so called most wonderful times of the year, that happens to be one of the more stressful for a lot of us, I think it’s important that you do prioritize it. One way to do that is to join the Get Reenergized Self-Care Challenge. So I will have a link to that in the show notes

Please go do it if you haven’t already. Okay, this is for you. 

Number two. 

If you are enjoying this podcast, please do consider giving me a rating and a review. I love to hear from you. I read every one. They are very meaningful to me and it helps to get the podcast found. 

And I am always trying to grow and get this in front of as many people as I can so that I can help as many people as I can. 

Number three.

Finally, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider sharing it specifically with somebody you think it would help. You can email it to them, you can share it on your favorite social media platform, whatever it may be. Just pick somebody that you know this would help and share it with them. 

Okay, that’s it. Let’s dive right into gratitude. 

My Story Behind Gratitude (That Will Help You Understand Why Gratitude Is So Beneficial)

Okay, so a little bit of truth here. I heard about gratitude for a long time before I ever, ever started practicing it. In fact, I would roll my eyes anytime I heard somebody bring it up. I thought, “Yeah, right, that sounds way too good to be true. It’s too woo woo for me. I’m not a woo girl.”

What I Used To Think About Gratitude

And so I never tried it. I thought “Eh, not for me. Kind of stupid.”

And it’s really interesting that I didn’t ever bother to try it because I was always kind of this – well, I wouldn’t say always but I’ve gone into this before. And if you don’t know my history and my story, you might want to go back and listen to it. I will put a link in the show notes to that episode as well. It’s episode number one

I wasn’t always a glass half full kind of girl. But during my college years and in law school, I kind of started to flip that switch. And by the time I was practicing, after a couple of years, I started to take control of my mentality and my mindset. I really did become a silver lining finder, I guess you could say. 

I’m not one of those people that’s just all positivity. I think that can be very toxic, but not naturally. I trained my brain to reframe things so that I would see the positives, I would understand what I’ve learned, and I would focus on those things. 

So given all of that, it seems a little crazy that I didn’t buy into gratitude. But I thought, you know, that’s just too good to be true. There’s just no way.

What changed? Cancer. 

When I had breast cancer, I mean, look, I don’t really remember how detailed I got about this originally, but the prognosis really was not good at first.

The Beginning of My Cancer Journey

I was very worried that that was my death sentence, that I was going to die within the next year or two. 

Because my cancer was so aggressive, it seemed that my doctors kind of presumed that it was very likely that my cancer had spread outside of my breast tissue and outside of my lymph nodes. If that had been the case, I would not be here with you now. I would be gone. The life expectancy for triple negative breast cancer patients who are stage four is, I think, like nine months. At least that’s what it was back when I was diagnosed. I don’t know if it’s the same now.

And so it was a death sentence if it had really spread.

I was terrified that was the case because people were acting as if it was very likely.

Luckily, it was not the case. Obviously, because I’m still here with you. And I did find that out within two weeks of my original diagnosis. 

I had to take a lot of tests. I had to have CT scans, MRIs, a bone scan, all of these things. And I had to go through that process. Then I had to have a lymph node –  a sentinel lymph node biopsy where they go in and they test the lymph nodes in your underarm area and try to see if there is any cancer there. And I was extremely lucky there was nothing there. 

So we did catch my cancer really, really early. But up until that point, I remember thinking back on my grandfather’s funeral. 

Imagining My Own Funeral

And so something to note about my life growing up. My grandfather Charlie was the biggest guiding force in my life throughout my childhood and into my young adulthood. He passed away a week before I graduated from law school. Up until that time, he was just the person I looked up to the most. 

My parents divorced when I was really young and I adored my father and I do and did look up to my father, but I didn’t see him but a couple of times a year. We didn’t live in the same city.

And so Charlie was my father figure for a very large portion of my life, at least throughout my childhood. Now, because of that, obviously I held him in high regard and high esteem. 

I remember going to his funeral and being just floored by the number of people who showed up. 

The family got there early and we had our own room in the back. We did not see the people who were coming into his funeral until everybody was there. And we walked in and it was standing room only. It really impacted me. 

My grandfather was truly a great human, and he affected and impacted a lot of lives in a very positive way. And that’s why people just showed up like crazy.

And it really resonated with me. 

My guide was my grandfather

I didn’t realize that it planted a seed within me, a seed to really want to live up to that legacy that he had to impact people in such a way and enough people, as many people as I possibly could in a positive manner to help them live the best lives possible.

And I felt like when I was looking at Death’s door that I hadn’t really done that.

Because I sat down that first day and I couldn’t help but envision my own funeral and think about “Well, how have I impacted people who would show up? What would they say about me?”

And I’ve got to tell you, I wasn’t terribly happy with what I came up with. 

Thinking About How I Had Been Living

Now, I hadn’t led a horrible life, right? I don’t think I’m a bad person. I’d done some good things in my life. But I didn’t think I’d lived up to those ideals that Charlie had taught me. 

And if you’d like to know more about Charlie and why I hold him in such high esteem, I’ve written about him for Tiny Buddha before and so I will provide a link to that article in the show notes. So that you can get to know him a little bit more. I highly recommend that you read that article. 

Realizing How I Wanted To Live

So I thought about all those things and I realized I haven’t lived the life I really want to live. And so after going through that and thinking I might die and then finding out “No, I’m not automatically dead. I can hand fight this, there is a chance.”, that kind of opened me up, I think, to new things.

And one of those new things was gratitude.

It jolted me to understand I haven’t been doing the things that I had wanted to do. I haven’t impacted people in the way that I wanted to. Where do I start? 

The starting point for me was, well, first and foremost, to live and get through this. But I also want to be able to do it in a way that shows people you don’t have to be so down. That is inspirational, that’s inspiring, right? 

That shows people that just because I am uncertain and I am potentially facing my own death, I can still live it to the fullest. I can still enjoy the simple things in life and not be down all the time about the fact that I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this. And so that is actually what opened the door for me to even consider gratitude.

How I Started Practicing Gratitude

Somebody gave me a little book.

I can’t remember the name of it, but it had like daily little prayers in it and lessons. It resonated with me in a way where I actually needed the lesson each day. 

Like, I would open up the book and I would read the lesson for that day and I would be like, “Whoa, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. How did you know?”

Because they had them based on date. So that date, you would open up a particular one and you’d read it and it just seemed like it was made for me. 

And I do think sometimes we see what we need to see in those types of things. But I felt like God, my higher power, my higher purpose, was speaking directly to me and helping me get through it. 

Wanting To Change My Mentality

And so all of these things culminated to say, “Okay, I want to change my mentality. I want to move forward with the most positive mindset that I can. Realistic but positive. How do I do that?”

Gratitude kept coming up, and so I was open to it. And so thus the transformation for me. I truly believe that my gratitude practice was probably the number one thing that helped me get through my cancer experience the way that I did. 

Now, let me be clear about a couple of things.

  • I didn’t love every moment of it. 
  • I had moments of severe doubt.
  • I had moments where I bargained with God.

I remember one day in the bathroom feeling wretched, just begging Him “If you will let me live, I will X, Y and Z.” I’m trying to bargain my way out of it, right? 

I still had those tough times but gratitude was kind of that rock that I would go to in my lowest moments. And frankly, that I did every day –  highs, lows, in between – that helped keep me going, that helped me put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. 

So this is why I really want you to listen to what gratitude can do for you. 

How Gratitude Kept Me Going Through The Roughest Times

The final thing that I’ll say is…

Even though it didn’t necessarily improve my mood every single day because it was still hard. I still had moments where I just hated my treatment and was physically very ill from some of the chemo that I was under. I got to a point where I said, “I’ve had enough. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m done. I’m not getting another chemo treatment. I’m finished. No more.”

And I was certain of that for a couple of days. Actually, it was more than a couple of days. 

I’m pretty sure that it was my gratitude practice that helped change my mentality around that whole thing. Because I did get my last treatment. And this is the funny thing about that.

I was telling myself no more, and I only had one more left. But I seriously was mentally done. Yet I kept doing my gratitude practice, and it kind of shifted my perspective slowly but surely. So a couple of weeks later, when it was time for that last infusion, I got it. And I got it willingly, knowing it was right. 

Okay, so enough about my transformation. If that is not enough to convince you to give gratitude at least a little bit of a try, hopefully what we’re about to go into will. Because let’s go ahead and get into…

The science backed benefits of a regular gratitude practice.

So there hasn’t been a lot of looking into the physical benefits of a regular gratitude practice, and in all honesty, that’s been a little bit mixed. But one thing that there’s definitely growing evidence of is:

A regular gratitude practice improves sleep – both the length and the quality of sleep.

Those who practice gratitude report having fewer negative and more positive thoughts, which allows them to more easily get to sleep. 

Instead of the typical ruminating over your worries and thinking about all the things that we often have spinning around in our head when we’re trying to get our heads to the pillow, they’re gone. And so that helps you get to sleep and stay asleep for a lengthier period of time.

A regular gratitude practice, they have determined, might support heart health.

By improving heart rate variability, which is an indicator of good heart health and lower blood pressure. Now, there’s not a lot of data on this yet, but the early evidence is definitely promising. 

Let’s get into the social benefits. 

One of the reasons why gratitude is so powerful is because of its effect on your social behavior. So studies show that expressing gratitude regularly increases your empathy and makes you more likely to offer help to others.

That means with gratitude comes more kindness, empathy, and compassion.

I want you to think about the ripple effect that this could have within your life and the world. By simply expressing gratitude on a regular basis, you can strengthen your relationships with family, friends, colleagues, clients.

And I would say, given all that’s gone on in the world, especially this last almost two years now, this is really good news. We need more of this, right? So those are the social benefits.

Now, from a mental health aspect.

This is where you see the biggest benefits. This is where it gets really exciting. 

The science clearly shows that the power of gratitude comes from within – it shapes your mentality, your outlook.

Studies show that gratitude and having a disposition towards being grateful increases optimism levels, produces more positive feelings, and boosts happiness levels. Simply put, people who are more grateful feel more satisfied and content with their lives.

And being grateful reduces negative, even toxic emotions such as regret, anger, frustration, resentment, etc. It can even reduce feelings of depression.

Now, I’ve talked about the fact that we all have these feelings. They’re normal, they’re natural. It’s okay to have them, right? 

I even had a whole episode on how to deal with these uncomfortable feelings and become more comfortable with the discomfort of having them. I highly recommend, if you haven’t listened to that episode, that you go back and listen to it. I will put a link to that episode in the show notes.

This goes hand in hand with gratitude, though. 

When you have a regular gratitude practice, it also makes it easier for you to get more comfortable with those so-called uncomfortable and negative emotions. To face them, process them, deal with them, get over them, move beyond them. 

Another thing that gratitude does is it makes you more stress resilient.

And what that means is you bounce back more quickly from traumatic experiences, from stressful events.

So it makes you mentally stronger, which, again, I think we all need more of right now given what we’ve gone through for almost two years now. 

One of my biggest concerns with what I’ve been seeing going on through this pandemic is how unresilient it’s making some people.

And to combat that, gratitude is a really, really simple, easy way to get started that works. 

Let’s dive a little bit more into this mindset piece, because this is where the real power of gratitude is. 

By regularly practicing gratitude, think about what you’re forcing yourself to do. You’re forcing your brain to be actively looking for things to be grateful for. 

Because if you do it the right way – and we’ll get into what the right way is at the end of this podcast – you’re going to be looking for things daily that you can put into your regular gratitude practice. And you can’t just be grateful for one thing. That’s one of my rules: at least three things. 

Think about how powerful that can be, especially when life isn’t going so well. 

This is one of the reasons why I say gratitude was so impactful and transformative for me, going through my cancer battle. It forced me to look at things in a new light – to really appreciate some of the small pleasures that I did have, elevate the importance of those, and focus on them. 

And let’s face it, life is not always fun, rewarding, or positive. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s depressing, sometimes it just plain sucks. Right? We all have those moments. 

But by forcing your mind to be on the lookout for what’s good, to be on the lookout for the lessons you’re learning through adversity, to be on the lookout for life’s simple pleasures that you would otherwise take for granted, you are rewiring how you think.

Why Rewiring Your Mind Is Necessary

Now, this is a big deal because your mind – I’ve talked about before – is prewired as a survival instinct to:

  • see the bad,
  • ignore the good, and 
  • worry about all the possible negative outcomes.

We talked about this back in episode number, I think it was two, about what causes stress, and how a lot of it has to do with your mentality, your mindset, your outlook.

This is an even bigger deal for those of you lawyers out there. I know not everybody who listens to this podcast is a lawyer, but many of you are. 

Not only do we have that prewired survival instinct to see the negative, but we are trained to see the risk, to plan around it. That can make it even harder for us. 

And so this is why gratitude can be such a big deal for you. Okay?

Most importantly, gratitude is self perpetuating.

And here’s what I mean by that: a regular gratitude practice attunes your mind to express gratitude on a very regular basis.

So you’re training your mind not just to look for stuff, but to be more grateful without even having to think about it. By doing this regularly, over time, the whole outlook changes and you don’t have to do it so proactively anymore. 

I like to say that the power of gratitude is truly in the ripple effect. It’s helping to cultivate a more growth oriented mindset. You’re less likely to allow fear and doubt to stop you. You’re going to be more resilient after things don’t go your way. You’ll be less likely to feel sorry for yourself when life is hard.

This is really important because how you see the world and yourself influences how you live your life. Which of course, E + R = O, impacts your results.

So gratefulness isn’t just about feeling better. It’s about living better. 

Now, I do want to be very clear about something here.

I’m not saying that practicing gratitude is going to automatically create success. 

It’s not going to automatically feel great every day or create success. And hopefully I’ve made that clear by giving you my breast cancer analogy – by what I went through. Every day wasn’t easy. 

It was better because of my gratitude practice, but it still wasn’t easy or even good or great sometimes. But it will help you to create better results than if you didn’t practice it. And it will help you to be a happier person overall, even though not every moment is happy. 

Common Misconceptions About The Benefits Of Gratitude And How To Practice Gratitude

So let’s quickly go through some common misconceptions or myths around gratitude and what it is, how it impacts you in your life.

#1: That it’ll make life easy.

No. Hopefully I’ve already made that clear, but I want to make it even clearer. It’s not a cure all to life’s woes, right? 

Life is messy. It’s always going to be that way. And although being grateful can help ease your pain and make things a little easier, it doesn’t always make you feel better. 

Yet it still helps you get through it with more strength and grace.

Maybe it won’t feel easier, but it allows you – like it did for me with cancer – to keep putting one foot in front of the other, take those continuous steps so you can get to the other side. 

And I’ve noted this before, but I cannot impress upon you the importance of when life is really hard, the importance of:

  • Bringing forth the simple pleasures,
  • Having just a brief moment where you’re able to smile or laugh even in pain, and
  • Reminding you why life is worth living no matter what’s going on in your world or the world in general. 

#2: That it’s not possible or too hard to express when life is especially difficult.

Hopefully my cancer story shows you that is not true. But another example, my baby brother Kyle died last year. And it wasn’t expected, it wasn’t pretty. He was way too young.

This was hard. And it was really hard for my family. I remember having a tough time, it was a couple of days after he passed where it really hit me more. And having to come up with something to be grateful for. It was hard, but it wasn’t impossible. 

I leaned into the small little things that were getting me through those days. So that’s something I would say. 

The small, simple things are often the most powerful and the best ones to lean into, especially when life is hard.

Also, sometimes life’s toughest moments bring our biggest and best lessons. And so those are always things to keep in mind when trying to find things to be grateful for. 

I will say this, you can’t always see it in that moment. But you see it later, and so that’s okay too. So to give you a couple of examples of what I’m talking about, how to find the simple pleasures right when life sucks.

Finding Simple Pleasures When Life Is Especially Hard

When I was going through cancer, my husband forced me to eat to make sure that I got my nutrition every day. I didn’t love that he did it. I felt kind of like a burden sometimes. 

But at the end of the day, I was grateful he was doing it because it showed how much he loved and cared about me. And it did remind me that I was wanted and that it was worth getting through. 

At the time that I was diagnosed, my youngest child was two. Noah was two. He was at that age where they have that awesome belly laugh. And so there was a particular day where I was in bed and barely able to walk. I was in such pain from my chemo.

My insides felt like they were being torn apart, basically, and I was just miserable. But I heard that laugh and it brought a smile to my face. Well, that was something I was grateful for that day because it reminded me of the simplest things and why I was there and why I was still doing my chemo. 

This is actually in that time period where I was thinking “I can’t do it again. I’m not doing this again.” That’s one of those things that helped me get through that and change my mind.

When I would get up in the morning, it would be really hard because of how bad I felt. But I had to go to the hospital anyway to get my neupogen shot to increase my white blood cells. So, I would look forward to and then relish the feeling of the warm water on my skin and how good that felt because it was the one good moment I had that day.

That is how to really focus on these simple, small pleasures that make life worth living, even when life sucks. 

#3: That being grateful means always finding a silver lining. 

No, gratitude is not about making things up to be grateful for, and it’s not about just thinking positively. 

I mentioned earlier that thinking positive can be very toxic. Sometimes the best you can do is to be grateful for the things you usually take for granted. Like my example of having warm water to shower. 

The truth is, you do not have to like what’s going on in your life or the world to practice gratitude in those moments. Just be grateful for the simple things. Do not try to make up some silver lining lesson that you can’t come up with. 

I did mention earlier that sometimes the toughest moments lead to life lessons that you can be grateful for, but you don’t always see it in that moment. It’s something that you do see later. That certainly happened to me with my cancer. 

Like, I hated feeling vulnerable. Hated it – didn’t like it at all. I saw it as a weakness. Later on, I started seeing how there was strength in my vulnerability.

But I didn’t see that for a long time and I wasn’t grateful for it in the moment. Later I learned a lesson around it because of the experience and could be grateful and expanded upon it and have been able to utilize it in tough times now. So it doesn’t always mean that you can find that silver lining. 

If you can’t, you CAN find those small, simple pleasures instead. Because it is toxic to make things up that aren’t real. It’s not going to help you and it’s going to backfire. So don’t do it. 

Next thing…

#4: That expressing gratitude on a regular basis might make you complacent.

As if being grateful for what you have is going to make you less likely to work hard and want to make your life better or the world better. I think that’s absolute hogwash.

I don’t hear this a lot, but I do sometimes get this as pushback. 

Being grateful in the moment, especially when life feels difficult, is not going to deter you from wanting more good in your life. So don’t believe that if that’s you.

Just remember that practicing gratitude generates positive emotions, makes you more resilient, and creates a growth mentality. And that’s what’s going to make you more likely to want to change things for the better and actually take action.

It’s going to help you get past those fears, those doubts that you automatically have that we all have, okay? So it’s going to help give you the motivation to do those things. 

Even though you might have fears, even though you have doubts, there’s no complacency. 

Okay, last myth, and this is a big one…

#5: That either you have it or you don’t. That you can’t really develop a grateful mindset. People are just born with it. 

Now look, I readily acknowledge that some people tend to have a more positive mentality from birth. It comes more naturally to them.

But let me tell you this does not necessarily mean that it’s any easier for them to be grateful when times are tough. On the contrary, it might make it harder for some of them because things have felt easier for them at times, and it’s harder for them when the unexpected happens. 

None of this really matters, though, because regardless of your natural mentality – whether you’re more positive or negative – you can actually change it for the better through a regular gratitude practice. 

That’s what the science tells us…

That a grateful mind is created and strengthened through consistent practice.

The more you practice it, the more likely you are to see things to be grateful for. And the more it is going to show up in your life. Which means the more you will be grateful, the more natural it will become.

And I’m here to tell you, I did not start as that positive person. I started more negative. I had a lot of reasons, I guess, or excuses to use for that with the way I grew up. Again, if you want to know more about it, go listen to episode number one.

And it was really hard for me. I kind of had that “Woe is me” martyr syndrome for a while. Sometimes it helped me work harder to do better. It’s probably what really spurred me in school to pay attention and do the best I could so that I could get into law school and all that.

But it started to hurt me later in life, and I had to identify that it was hurting me and start working on it. 

And although gratitude was not one of the things I chose, there are other ways to do it. It would have been a nice thing to have done early on that I wish I had done. Because I acknowledge now and know now that it really is powerful – and it makes that reframe, that mentality shift that we’re talking about easier.

So hopefully I have convinced you at this point to give gratitude a try.

How To Practice Gratitude Effectively

The question becomes, well, how do I do it? How do I practice gratitude and create a habit of it so that I can take advantage of all of its benefits?

So here’s what I want you to do.

I want you to try to do this every single day, initially.

For the next 120 days, 90 days at minimum, I want you to try to pick out a time of day – same time every day to make this super simple and easy – where you’re going to take just a couple of minutes to write down what you’re grateful for. 

Now, writing it is key. 

I think it’s important to write it down. Get a journal, get something that is devoted to it, or maybe it’s just as notes on your phone. Don’t really care as long as you write it down. 

And the reason I want you to write it down is it forces you to get more real about it and truly identify things that you’re grateful for and then do the second part, okay? Which is why.

When you are grateful for something, you want to explain why.

Do not skip this step. This is where the real power of gratitude comes from, okay?

It’s not enough to just be grateful. You need to know why you’re grateful for it. So identify what that is. 

Remember when I gave you the examples earlier I told you I’m grateful for because… Why was I grateful? How did it improve my life? How did it make me feel?

Say why.

List at least three things every single day, no less.

You can do more if you have more, but at least three things. Again, you’re trying to attune your mind to be more open to the experiences you’re having every day and to become more grateful, more positive. You need to have at least three things to help you do that, okay?

Repeats are not allowed.

You need to find something new every day, and you really need to be specific. It’s not enough to say, I’m grateful for my husband, I’m grateful for my kids, I’m grateful for my jobs.

I’m sure you can see how that is not really going to help you make this mental shift, right? You’ve got to be super specific about something that truly happened, something that you truly experienced, you observed, or that happened to you, or even a lesson that you learned that day through failure. 

And do not forget to be grateful for the simplest of things, things that you might otherwise take for granted and also for lessons learned. Your failures of the day, mistakes made, things that went wrong. What lessons did you learn? How did you grow through it? 

Now, to help you with this, here is a tip so that you can be very specific and not be too general.

I want you to limit yourself to something that you have experienced within the last 24 hours.

I personally find it easier to practice gratitude towards the end of my day. It’s part of my night routine that I like to go through.

And I will be honest with you, I no longer write it down. But I’ve been doing this for so long, I don’t really need to. I said before that it becomes more natural, a more natural habit where you just do it. That’s kind of what it’s become for me. 

Occasionally when I go through tougher times, I do write it down. So I don’t never write it down. It’s not as common.

But when I’m really needing it, I’ll go a couple of weeks where I’m writing it down as a really good reminder. But always look to the last 24 hours.

That’s going to help keep it really specific and make you be on the lookout every single day for something.

So obviously, at least hopefully obviously, gratitude is an act of self care. It’s probably one of the more overlooked self care practices out there that can make a big difference. 

And think about it this way, it only takes a couple of minutes. You’re not spending a lot of time. You can do what I just told you in three minutes or less. 

Take This Further By Treating Yourself To A Self-Care Challenge

If you would like more ways to take good care of yourself that do not revolve around exercise, eating healthy, all the things you typically know about and do. And if you really want to transform or shift your mentality around what self care is, then I invite you to join the Get Re Energized Self Care Challenge.

Again, I will put a link to that in the show notes.

All right, have a wonderful Thanksgiving for those of you who are here in the United States, stay safe and we’ll be talking next week. Bye for now.