Gratitude, A Radical Act
A couple months ago I started a daily gratitude practice. I had heard the virtues of a daily practice extolled by many an Internet meme, spiritual guru, friend, and Ted talk. For some reason I never got around to it. After a patient told me about a Facebook group she started for her friends, where they share their daily gratitude with each other, I decided it was time to create my own. Inner Spark: Joy & Gratitude Circle is open to all and for positive posts only. That’s the only rule. It’s exclusively inclusive. Every day I post in the group sharing little or big things that that make me grateful.
Why gratitude? To shift the focus of your brain! The neural pathways in our brains are created and maintained by repetitive thoughts and actions. Creating a daily gratitude practice retrains those pathways focus on what you do have instead of what you don’t. We hear so often that attitude is everything. It’s not a trite saying; it’s true. A negative point of view can lead you to miss out on everything from big opportunities to simple moments of happiness. A positive point of view allows for hope, happiness, and endless possibilities. Your brain will have habitual thought processes no matter what – why not make them awesome?!
This daily gratitude practice has helped me in so many ways. The group now has over 380 members from my local community and around the world, and is growing weekly. I find joy in the growth. There is strength in numbers. There is happiness in reading other people’s posts. My joy has grown exponentially as others see the benefit in their lives and send me gratitude in return. I’m on the receiving end of praise for creating a space for gratitude and it feels wonderful. It’s possible I never would have received so accolades about who I am if I hadn’t created the space for it and led by example. I am appreciating so much more in my life. I’m spreading beauty and happiness.
Public gratitude is a vulnerable and radical act. Our culture teaches us to complain and be negative to connect with others. “Hot enough for ya?” “The traffic is horrendous!” and the like. Combined with our own internal voices of “not good enough,” saying what we like out loud feels really vulnerable. If I say it out loud, someone else can refute it! They can make me feel like a fool! What does it say about me to like something that others don’t? Oh the anxiety! SO MUCH ANXIETY. Taking steps to change your brain chemistry is a great way to combat anxiety. Doing so in a public forum further combats complaint culture. Through repetition and positive feedback it teaches us that it's safe to be positive in public.
Maybe a daily gratitude practice seems like too much for you. I’m a fan of tiny changes. Commit yourself to practice gratitude, in public or in a private, just once this week. If you fail, you failed small. If you complete this challenge then you know you can do more next week! Or maybe you just want to marinate on this concept for a year or five. It’s all fine. I can say though, without a doubt my daily gratitude practice is making me a happier, healthier, and more likable person. Give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose!
I invite you to join my gratitude circle by clicking here.