“In order to live a joy-filled life you must become an expert in gratitude.” Tim Kelley, 21 Days of Meditation
Most healing experts suggest that practicing daily gratitude is a key to optimal wellness. I really couldn’t agree more. Most days that’s a piece of cake – family, friends, all the many modern conveniences that surround us – are easy to appreciate. But, what about those days when everyone and everything just seems to be getting on your nerves? (Admit it, it happens!) That is when you can turn to the following universal sources of joy.
1. Pets / Animals – I am such a sap for our furry friends. Even the not-so-furry buddies like fish or lizards can bring a smile to your face. The simple, unconditional love of animals is easy to appreciate.
2. Nature – Ever look at a flower, I mean really look at it? Flowers are spectacular. And, the sun, talk about amazing! Every day (even when it is raining) the sun is up sending its valuable energy toward Earth. The ocean, trees, crystals, a strawberry – the wonders of nature are really endless and you are bound to find at least one right outside your door that you can be grateful for.
3. Touch – All of the senses enrich our lives, but touch is probably one of the most underrated. If you don’t see why it’s so wonderful, book a massage, or better yet, just press your thumb into the center of your palm and rub. Feels good right? You can also release tension and set a cascade of feel good chemicals in motion by giving yourself a foot massage. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate process. Simply grabbing your foot and giving it a squeeze can do the trick. If no humans will help you out with this touch thing, check back with #1 and cuddle up with a pet.
4. Writing – I can’t believe how much I enjoy the emotional release of writing. Heck this blog is one big opportunity at feeling lighter. You don’t need to get all high-tech. Pen and paper is just as effective (and in fact maybe more so) at enabling the release of thoughts, feelings and even pent up creative energy that is looking for a way out. One of the core components of cultivating gratitude comes from the act of writing. As you sit down to begin your list “the ability to write” could top it off every time. See Journaling for more information on the science and tools behind writing for health.
5. Meditation / Prayer – These two spiritually enlightening activities have both everything and nothing to do with religion. That is to say, virtually every major religion includes prayer or meditation as an important part of encouraging spiritual connection. However, you need not be religious at all to utilize these tools. Consider them a gift from the Universe which is available all of the time to everyone. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and reciting, “Please bring me Peace,” reciting “Thy Will Be Done,” or focusing on your breath. See the Meditation page for more information, or check out “Mastering Meditation.”
6. Reading – Like writing, I honestly can’t believe how much I have grown to love reading as an adult, because as a child I didn’t much care for either. That was mostly because much of what I was given to read or told to write was mandated by a teacher (well-intended for sure but not something I appreciated). Now I understand that reading is a window to another world. You can learn virtually any subject or skills through words. That is pretty powerful. I have learned about spirituality, gained skills at website creation, and come to understand what is most important in life all through the written word.
7. Sleep – There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not thankful for my cozy bed. No matter how bad a day has gone, we all have the ability to close our eyes, recharge, and face a new day with a clean slate.
8. Yoga – I understand that this might not be something that makes your list, but hear me out on this one. Even if you don’t like exercise you can appreciate the beauty of yoga. Its combined focus on the breath along with twisting and stretching postures works your mind, body and spirit all at once. And, as an added bonus, it actually makes your body look and feel stronger than you could even imagine. I was diagnosed with scoliosis a few years ago, yet my daily yoga practice has insured that my spine is straight and strong, and since that is what will keep me walking tall into my golden years it is definitely something to be grateful for. Yoga poses need not be elaborate. Even just balancing on one foot in tree pose can work your muscles and your mind.
9. Dark Chocolate / Red Wine – O.K. so maybe these two aren’t a given on any particular day if heaven forbid you have run out. But, they always have a place on my happy lists. Few foods or drinks are actually good for you (in moderation of course) while being so darn enjoyable.
10. Internet – The first two decades of my life were Internet-free, and because of that, I am always appreciative of the astounding power of the Internet. There is never an excuse to not be entertained or educated when you have access to the Internet. It may not technically be the healthiest item on this list, but it might be the most fun. Imagine what your life would be without the Internet, email, or Facebook, and when the cold sweat subsides, offer thanks for the power it puts at your fingertips.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There could literally be hundreds of things to be thankful for every day. And, what’s great about exercising gratitude is that there are no rules! You get to be grateful for whatever you want.
What’s on your list today?