Gratitude as a practice
In order to make gratitude more fully a part of our character and our daily lives, it is important to consider taking small steps that we build up over time. The notion of a ‘practice’ means that we are not yet proficient at something, that we need to practise it.
The principles of a gratitude practice
- We could start with a sense of appreciation, awe, giftedness: a feeling of what we are grateful for. Then we reflect on how we might want to give back actively although not necessarily reciprocally.
- The impact is more powerful and the practice more sustainable if we practise with one person or one situation rather than many.
- Our chosen practice should be a little out of our comfort zone but not too much of a stretch.
- It is important to not expect reciprocity from the person to whom we are practising gratitude.
- Gratitude should not be practised with the aim of trying to change another but rather to capture the change in ourselves.
- It’s better if our gratitude must not depend on ours or other people’s mood or on the conditions being favourable.
- It is best not to be inhibited by a tendency towards perfectionism – there will be times when we don’t feel grateful.
Kinds of gratitude practices
- Keeping a gratitude journal to generate awareness of what you are grateful for.
- A State of Preparedness: How might you cultivate an your inner feeling of gratitude at the beginning of the day or before a meeting, training session, communication activity, other task?
- Gratitude as reconnaissance: Recognising another through acknowledging what we receive from them and expressing this in ways that are authentic to us and meaningful to them.
- Moving from resentment towards gratitude – as outlined in Untangling you: How can I be grateful when I feel resentful?
30 Day Gratitude Practice
The following are examples of gratitude practices. They have been developed to be able to help us be able to access gratitude in the midst of adversity, particularly at these challenging times where we are in the midst of a pandemic. However, they are useful for any situations where you want to develop your gratitude. You may like to choose just one or two gratitude practices that resonate with you and focus on these for some time before coming back to another one. Or you may like to take up a 30-day gratitude practice and follow each one consecutively for 30 days. Whatever efforts we make to practise gratitude in ways we haven’t done so in the past, can have a significant effect.