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Exercises In Gratitude

This is the time of year when the whole nation turns its focus toward gratitude in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. As a nod to this uniquely American collective wave of gratitude, I thought I’d share some of my favorite gratitude exercises with you. Mind, you can do these any day of the year. But it can be nice to use this holiday of thanks giving to start to cultivate a gratitude practice, in earnest. I hope you find something here that really excites and inspires you. And, as a matter of record, I’d like to tell you that I am super grateful for you, blissmakers. I continue to find inspiration, support, and connection with every interaction. Thank you so much for being a bright and shining part of my life!

  1. The first exercise is, arguably, the easiest. (Though, they’re really all pretty easy.) This is a practice that can be done anytime, anywhere, and requires absolutely no equipment. The first exercise is to practice a gratitude meditation. This can as simple or elaborate as you like - just as with any meditation practice. It really just involves getting comfortable and quiet and focusing your awareness on all the things for which you are grateful. You can say your gratitude list out loud, or silently in your head. You can be seated, standing, or curled up in a cozy winter’s bed. You can be bundled up in twenty layers or naked as a jay bird. Meditator’s choice! Just carve out some time to consistently shift your thoughts to your blessings.

  2. Exercise 2 is to start a gratitude journal. In fact, Exercise 2 + 3 involve starting a gratitude journal, but with slightly different twists. Exercise 2’s gratitude journal is for listing out everything that you’re grateful for on paper. It’s kind of a more corporeal version of Exercise 1. There’s an added layer of power that comes from putting pen to paper and writing down that upon which we are focusing. This also allows us to have a resource to turn to when we might be having trouble recognizing the blessings in our lives.

  3. Exercise 3, as mentioned above, is also to start a gratitude journal. This journal, however, is less about recording what’s currently awesome in our lives. It’s more a tool for manifesting those things we want to have/be/do in our lives. For this exercise, which I pilfered from another awesome online entrepreneur, Jessica Perez Beebe, involves writing lines in a journal. Each line begins with the phrase: “I am so grateful for the fact that now I …” The first bit - “I am so grateful” - is what initiates that feeling of gratitude and excitement and raises our vibration level. The second bit - “for the fact that” - puts this ‘wish’ into the concrete realm of reality. This helps encourage the subconscious to start recognizing that these dreams are already true. The next bit - “now” - puts the manifestation in the present tense. You can write one line over and over, or fill your page(s) with many different lines of gratitude. Your choice. But, remember to get as specific as you can to help your mind’s eye really connect with the things you want to manifest.

  4. Say the words! Express your gratitude vocally. Exercise 4 is all about letting the object(s) of your gratitude know just how thankful you are. This kind of vocal acknowledgement raises your vibration by getting really clear on what you appreciate, and gives the object the beautiful gift of receiving the accolade. (Who doesn’t like hearing an genuine ‘thank you’ now and again?)

  5. Exercise 5 involves taking Exercise 4 a bit further. Add the power of your gratitude in written form by writing thank you notes/letters to the objects of your gratitude. I say objects - instead of person(s) - because it doesn’t have to be people you’re writing to. You can write a letter to your Aunt Nellie thanking her for always remembering your birthday with a crisp five dollar bill. You can write a letter to your persimmon tree for producing the most delicious and sweet persimmons for you to eat every autumn. You can write a note to your dryer thanking it for not eating your socks. Get creative with this practice. You may even write a letter to yourself thanking yourself for being so freaking awesome that you can't help but write yourself beautiful letters of gratitude. You can mail that letter to yourself, and have a beautiful piece of mail - that isn’t junk or bills - greeting you in a day or two. Have fun with it. Be authentic with it. Feel your gratitude in your mind, in your body, and then on paper.

  6. Practice Gratifood. Exercise 6 is especially easy to practice at Thanksgiving, but can be done at any meal. Simply gather everyone around the table (or wherever you’re sharing your meal), and, before eating, invite everyone to share what it is they are grateful for in that moment. That’s it. Simple, right? And a beautiful way to share sustenance with others by creating a state of gratitude before beginning the feast.

Each of these exercises is designed to raise your vibration to one that will allow you to attract more things for which you can be grateful. Thanksgiving may feel like a stressful holiday that involves nothing more than overeating and fighting with family, but, at its core, it’s a beautiful celebration of the practice of conscious gratitude. How will you be celebrating?

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