By Charli Lundholm

We hear the word gratitude a lot. Be grateful. Have a gratitude practice. Be thankful. So we may go around just saying the word without really feeling it. There is a big difference between just saying, “I’m grateful for ____” and really FEELING that gratitude. I know there are those days when you don’t really feel grateful so you kind of have to fake it and just say “I am grateful for_______.” However, the more you FEEL the gratitude, the easier it is to stay in that space and the harder it is to get pulled out of it.

Focusing on what you are thankful for and FEELING that gratitude (are you getting tired of me saying the word FEELING?) has so many positive effects. It can shift a bad mood to a good mood almost instantly. It can reduce the drama level. It can bring you out of having a “poor me” pitty party. On top of all of that, it has a positive effect on your physical body. It helps release endorphins, bringing about a state of well being. It can decrease stress, bringing your blood pressure back to a normal level and aid in your sleep. All this for free and with no side effects. What medication can claim that?

So what does a gratitude practice look like? There are many ways to do it. Some people keep a journal and write down what they are grateful for. Others just verbalize it or say it in their minds. I personally think if it is vocalized, it is even better. You can just tell it to the universe, to yourself, to the dog or better yet, to the people you are grateful for!

This is my favorite way to have a gratitude practice: Every morning write, or say, ten things you are grateful for AND WHY. The why part really helps you connect in to the feeling, to the reason why you feel the way you do. It’s like getting a double dose of those beautiful endorphins. For example, I could say “I am grateful for my dog.” That’s nice that I have that gratitude. But when I add, “because she is so filled with unconditional love for me and accepts me no matter what,” NOW we have extra feelings of love and gratitude. It takes it up a notch. The FEELINGS are the part that the universe resonates to as well. If you are feeling grateful for all of the love that is around you…guess what the universe is going to do. Send you more love to be grateful for! See where I am going with this FEELING part?

You can instantly change the direction of a negative feeling or thought by going into a state of gratitude. I had a great reminder of this the other day. I was in the grocery store and left with what appeared to be very little food for a lot of money. I was grumbling and grousing. What yucky energy to be attaching to the things that are supposed to be nourishing to myself and my family. So I instantly nipped it in the bud and said, “I am grateful that I have access to this food, that I had the money to buy it, and to mother earth for providing it.” Suddenly my mood shifted and I felt lighter and back on track.

There are many things to be grateful for in your life:

Be grateful for what you have. Do you have a roof over your head? A car? A bed to sleep in at night? How about a warm shower? A dishwasher? A washing machine and dryer (I am sooo grateful for those!) Clothes to go into that washer and dryer?

Be grateful for who you are. Are you a good person? Do you care about others? Are you helpful, compassionate or kind? Do you help take care of the earth? Are you nice to animals and kids? Are you a good cook? A wonderful party planner? A great CEO? Do you take the time to take care of yourself? Are you healthy? Can you see, walk, talk, and hear? Are you happy? Are you loved?

Be grateful for who is in your life. Do you have great friends? How about your family? What co-workers are you grateful for? Do you have nice neighbors? What about that bus driver or grocery store clerk?

If having a gratitude practice is new to you, you can try doing a 7-14 day trial. Every morning, write down 10 things that you are grateful for and why. Don’t worry if every day seems to be the same. It’s ok to be thankful for the same things daily. But also look around to see things to add to your practice.

During the day, if you find yourself becoming cranky, turn it around. Go back to a place of gratitude. If someone at work is being a jerk, stop and be grateful that you aren’t them! Look around for something that you are grateful for…a different co-worker, or nice customers. Consciously make the choice to SHIFT where you are coming from. At night, just before you go to sleep, think about all of the things you were grateful for during the day and pick one that really stands out.

I am thankful for you!