Tools for Living Gratefully
Building on ideas shared in my post on September 15, It Takes More Than "An Attitude of Gratitude", here are some more tools I have in my living gratefully toolkit. Tool implies that it takes effort. It does. It also implies that something is being built or created. It is. The effort is fruitful and the structure beautiful and stable.
1. Meditation practices. I try to do a daily guided meditation, usually in the 10-15 minute range. Insight Timer is a great free app that I use. I can search over 100,000 meditation tracks by teacher, length, topic. This practice tunes me into my breath and body, and sets me up for less cluttered thinking.
2. Besides looking up to the sky when I step outside, I also tune into my senses. What am I smelling, hearing, seeing? It's always a buffet of sensory delights and reminders of one kind or another. Sometimes on a walk I will tune in to one sense especially and really focus on what I can pick up. Our senses are amazing, even more when they aren't just on automatic.
3. Step into a room in your home for a couple minutes. Look around at the things you treasure and appreciate in that room. Close your eyes and recall a pleasant memory that took place there. This morning I paused in our entryway. It gets a lot of traffic, but not nearly as much appreciation.
4. Write a note to someone and drop it in the mail or deliver it in person. Maybe you are thanking them for something specific or just for being in your life. I dropped a few of those in the mail last week. It's a good feeling sending those out into the world.
5. Focus on a mundane task that most days you do without thinking. Maybe it is brushing your teeth, or putting the laundry in the washing machine. Slow down a little and just notice each gratitude as you go--teeth to brush, running water, minty-fresh toothpaste, a favorite-colored brush.
Yes, I use the word gratitude as a noun too. It fits. All of these practices, tools if you will, heighten my sense of gratefulness. And gratefulness is more an emotion. A sense of humble grace that I am here in this moment appreciating what I have. That sets me and my day up for a more sane pace, for more kindness and respect shown to both the people and the things around me. As Lynne Twist says: "What we appreciate, appreciates."
Which of these tools might you try today? What are your tools for living gratefully? I bet you have a few, even if you never call them that. I would love to hear about them. Have a good day! Onward!