Nikki Ostrower (Nutritionist)
Here's a Guide on How and Why You Should Develop a Gratitude Practice
Part of the reason I love the topic of gratitude so much is because it’s an instant pick-me-up, and has the power over time to literally rewire the brain!
There’s no perfect practice with gratitude. You simply take a little time out of your day, even just 3 minutes, to write down and/or speak aloud who or what you are grateful for. That’s it.
Our brains can’t focus on two things at once. So it’s an amazing tool to reroute your thoughts from negative to the positive, giving yourself a personal pep talk in seconds.
I love writing gratitude lists in my journal, and especially love sharing gratitude out loud with family around the dinner table. Simply go around and say one thing you each are grateful for. (And while I know Thanksgiving is around the corner, remember that you can give gratitude 365 days a year!)
Another beautiful gratitude practice is writing thank you notes (especially for unconventional things!) and mailing it to friends and family. Receiving a card of handwritten thanks is one of the best gifts anyone could give or receive. It’s my opinion that we don’t give and receive thanks nearly enough. You have total control over the giving part, and not only does the receiver feel amazing with your gratitude, but so do you!
If you don’t have the time to send a handwritten note of thanks, even a text, phone call, or a simple post-it will do! I put post-it notes in my husband and daughters lunch each day to remind them that I love them. Prioritizing that simple message of love and thanks reminds us what truly matters most, and is a vital form of care on more stressful, busy days.
Tiny thanks for seemingly inconsequential things also has a huge positive impact on those around you. Whether you are a manager, coworker, spouse, parent, child, or friend, doesn’t matter. Thank someone in your life today for doing the dishes, giving you time off work, helping you meet a deadline, or helping you with school work. That alone has the power to transform relationships.
There are apps now that will check in with you and remind you to write down what you are grateful for if you don’t carry a pen and paper around, but even leaving a pad next to your bed and writing 3 things down each night makes a huge difference over time!
Try it, and you’ll start to notice the shift in more positive feelings and less stress. It's especially helpful if you tend to have anxious thoughts in the evening. Share with your partner at lights out, and it’s the best way to fall asleep happy. :)
Or here’s a final example of how you can implement gratitude in a fun, creative way. Write down what you are grateful for in the present tense, but make it things that you are actually desiring to achieve in the near future. Ex: If you want to go on a trip, write down the joy and gratitude you feel right now for your upcoming trip! Or imagine all the details of your trip and what you are most excited about!
You can quite literally use gratitude lists as a powerful manifestation tool. In writing it down, it helps you get clear about what you want, visualize what you want, feel really good about it right now, and use positive present tense active language around it.
When we say “I want x”, we are reiterating to the brain we don’t currently have it, and potentially putting that goal or desire in the distant future where the unconscious brain can’t latch onto it.
You may not have that dream trip already booked, but telling your unconscious you are so grateful for your trip lights it up! And the more detailed you get, the more your unconscious wants to make that vision a reality and takes action steps, believing that it can.
A friend of mine did this for a month. She wrote down that she wanted to create more financial freedom, travel, meet new people, perform in a new show (she’s a singer), and see her family for the holidays. She didn’t try to figure out the details of how on earth that could all happen. Instead, she wrote that in her gratitude journal every day in present tense. Then she eventually let it go and forgot about it.
Low and behold, within a couple months of that experiment, she got cast in a Broadway national tour with great pay, going to cities she had never been to, and would get to see her family for all the end-of-year holidays thanks to the schedule. It doesn't always manifest that fast, but dreams truly can become reality when our desires are clear.
So regardless of which route you choose, do choose gratitude. Use this tool every day and you will see changes in your positive outlook on life, lower stress levels, greater energy and creativity, healthier happier relationships, and greater love, joy, and appreciation for all the goodness in your life. For just 3 minutes a day!