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Mindfulness & Practicing Gratitude

By Jessica Diktas

“The real gift of Gratitude is that the more grateful we become, the more present we become.”

Fun Facts: Gratitude has been found to increase emotional well being, reduce stress, and improve physical health. The act of being grateful can in itself also foster the formation of social relationships and increase awareness of available social support. With close ties to mindfulness– of which the effects on our biochemistry are becoming an increasingly popular area of scientific study– gratitude involves being present and acknowledging the people and circumstances that have benefited you.

Researchers also found that teens who are grateful have a positive outlook and are more hopeful than their less-grateful peers. “More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world,” study researcher Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at California State University, said in a statement.

Gratitude Mindful Exercises:

1. Every day this week journal three things you are grateful for about yourself.

2. Journal G.L.A.D.: Write one Gratitude for the day, one new thing you Learned, one small Accomplishment, and one thing of Delight that touched you that day.

3. Similar to a journal, take a photo of one thing you are grateful for every day for a week. Notice how you feel. Take a look back at the pictures every week. You don’t have to find grandiose things to be grateful for. A simple picture of a flower will do! The more you do this the easier it will be for you to spot out the things you are grateful for. You will no longer take simple things for granted. Perhaps you will document multiple pictures in a day. After a given time period, put all your pictures together in a collage and simply be grateful for all that you have.

4. Morning Coffee Gratitude: While you’re having your first cup of coffee, sit back and think of the things that you’re thankful for. You can even start out by feeling gratitude for the following:

  • The warmth of the coffee mug you’re holding
  • The aroma of the coffee
  • The first sip of coffee
  • The beautiful morning
  • A new day
  • Quiet before the day officially starts

5. Gratitude Letter: Sit down and write a letter to someone who has been a positive influence in your life, but whom you have not properly thanked. This could be a teacher or mentor from your past, a grandparent, co-worker, or anyone else who has helped you in some way. The letter doesn’t have to be long, but make sure that you’re specific about what the person did and how it affected you.

6. Gratitude Trigger: Place an object somewhere in your house or workspace that will remind you to feel grateful each time you look at it. It can be as simple as the words “Thank you” or a photo of friends for whom you are thankful.

Mindful Gratitude Classroom & Community Exercise:

Classroom: For each of your students write one thing you are grateful for about them on the board before they arrive. I encourage you to do this every class for an entire month. See what happens! This exercise builds self-esteem, positive relationships, and love within the classroom.

Community: “The Grateful Heart” – Post a large red heart on a wall in the community area, label it Community Gratitude and hand out post-its to your entire community (school, office, etc.). Ask everyone to post throughout the week what they are grateful for about themselves and sign the note. Or, find a leader in the community and ask them to lead the community posting for the week. Each week will be a different form of gratitude for the entire month (i.e.: self-gratitude, future gratitude, community gratitude, etc.).

TED Talk: Want to be Happy? Be Grateful

Hear from Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar, about how happiness comes from being grateful:

 This TED Talk can also be found Here.

I’d love to hear if you practice any of these exercises, and how they made you feel! Please share in the comments!

In gratitude,

Jessica

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