Post by Kristin Jarvis Adams | November 21, 2021
I’ve recently adopted a practice where I name ten simple things I am grateful for each morning before my feet hit the ground. At first, it felt a little awkward, and I’ll admit that I initially couldn’t think of ten things beyond listing my friends and family. But then, with a bit of practice, the list grew, and I discovered that the simplest things shifted my thinking and the way I move through my day.
This was my gratitude list this morning:
Now, I know this is not an impressive list, but there is a story behind each of these things I named—a story that has meaning to me and automatically expands my gratitude list. When I take a moment to notice each of these things and call them by name, it keeps me in the present moment where I find comfort and peace.
Here is another powerful gratitude practice by Tanmeet Sethi, an Integrative Medicine doctor at Seattle’s Swedish Hospital. This one is a game-changer, my friends. I hope you try it. 🙂
Practicing Gratitude for Someone
Think of someone you are truly grateful for—a friend, mentor, partner, whomever (I love doing it with a child). Close your eyes, think about them and WHY you are grateful for them. Notice what it feels like in your body.
That feeling is your nervous system settling down. That’s your relaxation system kicking in. But wait, there’s more happening here! The primary nerve of your relaxation system—the vagus nerve—gives us the urge to connect deeper with ourselves and others. The more you do this, and the longer you stay in this state, the more connected you will feel to the world around you.
When we can get grounded in healthy, comforting relationships, we feel safer in this world. We feel more a part of it instead of walking through it. When we express gratitude for another human being, we see that we are part of a larger whole. And if we write a thank-you note to that person (herein lies the extra power of this exercise), we amplify it even more.
Studies show that people who write thank you notes 3 times a week for three weeks felt better in mood than those who wrote in their journal or those in therapy. Plus, they still felt better 3 months after this study was over!
It sounds too simple, I know. But trust me, it’s big.
Here’s how it works…
1. Think of someone you are grateful for, past or present.
2. Write them a note about why you are grateful for them. Include specific details.
3. You could stop right here and feel all the good feels, but you get bonus points if you either mail it to them or deliver it in person and read it to them.
4. Tell them you have something special to give them and watch the magic unfold.
When we express and relay gratitude to others, we feel better in all kinds of ways.
1. Your nervous system will get the signal that you feel safe and connected.
2. Your heart will get the signal that you and this other person mattered in the web of your life.
3. Your body will relax knowing that you are cared for by another.
What do you think? Are you willing to give these exercises a try? If you do, please let me know how it goes!
Sending gratitude your way,
P.S. If you are interested in more of Tanmeet’s gratitude practices, check out Tanmeet Sethi’s Gratitude Community and weekly Gratitude Blog.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Kristin Jarvis Adams' story of Andrew and Frightful is a beautiful and remarkable journey through medical mysteries, a reliance on a superhero chicken, and ultimately, a transcendent faith that ushers in hope when all else seems lost.
Love this and a great lesson for all f us in our busy lives!
I appreciate you. This post. Never too much thankfulness! I tend to be very thankful for the practical: Health, water, electricity, flushing toilets, heat, transportation, food, clothing. Your post is a good shift of focus to more sharing of appreciation toward people we value. Thanks!
Darlene, Yes! Sometimes I forget to show appreciation for the small and mundane things in my day. When I remember to focus on being grateful for every little thing, my outlook on life changes immediately.
I appreciate your words more than you’ll know. Often I find my eyes have sprung a leak, and my heart has been warmed. I get tingles too, and a burning desire to share my gratitude for some of the tiniest blessings.
Tearfully yours…Happy Holidays!