How long’s your To Do list? If you’re anything like me, it’s very long and ignoring it isn’t easy. But today I have done just that!
Today I tossed a handful of wild birdseed out for the birds, and instead of working I’ve been watching them bobbing around in my yard, all fluffy and happy to have found such a feast. It’s hard not to feel grateful for the simplicity and sweetness of this moment.
I really value these moments of gratitude. There’s a joy that comes from them that seeps into my cells like sunshine ~ and stays there, keeping me warm for the rest of the day. I see a commitment to the daily practice of gratitude as a commitment to self care. Neuroscientist Rick Hanson talks of the value of extracting the goodness from everyday life in this way in his book, Buddha’s Brain. As he says, science is now proving that thankfulness has a profound effect on our well being.
When you’re rushing headlong through your day, and that To Do list, it’s easy to overlook what you’re rushing past ~ an infinite number of ordinary moments that are capable of bringing you extraordinary joy. It makes sense to seek these out and the best way I know how to do that is to start a daily gratitude practice. This can take a little conscious planning to begin with. Here’s some ideas about how you can do that; things that worked for me:
HOW TO START A LITTLE GRATITUDE PRACTICE
1) Set your intention at the start of the day ..
To notice a few small things you are grateful for. If you don’t set an intention chances are the day will go flying by and you’ll have missed all sorts of lovely things that you won’t even know you’ve missed. Gratitude doesn’t come as naturally as grumbling does so to begin with it’s a good idea to be conscious about this.
2) Now keep your appreciation antenna up as you move through your day.
Be open to the possibility that good things exist everywhere, even on days when things are not going so well. You’ll be amazed at what you notice now that you overlooked before, and you’ll get better and better at this. It might be patterns of sunlight dancing on the wall of your bedroom. Or your cat washing his little paws. Or the sound of a violin being played by a busker outside your supermarket. Or the first cherry blossom of the season. The little moments are the greatest gifts of all.
3) When you come across something that makes you feel grateful stop and be still.
Breathe into that moment. Allow all that goodness to soak into your body, like water into a sponge. Rick Hanson says just a few seconds of soaking up the good is beneficial in so many ways. And who hasn’t got a few seconds to invest in her own selfcare!
4) Record the moment in some way.
I love my cellphone because it makes it easy for me to take a photo of what I see, or to write a quick little note about how it made me feel. I never manage to capture the true magic of these moments of course, but I do try. As time goes on, if you get into the habit of recording these moments, you’ll start to see how richly blessed you are, no matter what is going on in your life.
5) Revisit the goodness in your day just before you go to sleep.
Let those little moments of gratitude colour your dreams as you sleep. If you fill those last few waking moments with thoughts of thankfulness you’ll not only sleep better ~ you’ll wake better as well!