Dec 20, 2019

Simple Technique: How I cultivate Gratitude and Joyfulness

Sometimes I get asked, if I am always happy. I was even assumed to be fake, because I seem to be in a good mood most of the time.

First of all – no, I am not always happy, and I have bad moments and days, too, like everybody. Also, I don’t make a secret of it. Even though, I might not publicly share my most vulnerable moments – not to hide, but to be present with myself and the ones close to me in moments of difficulty.

Having said this, I also have to say, that yes - MOST of the time I am in a good mood. Not because I am special or because I have it so much easier than everyone else, but because I made my well-being a priority. Being joyful and in a good mood is in fact one of my top priorities, if not the one! For so many reasons; being positive we see solutions rather than problems, count blessings rather than grievances, and feel overall more free, healthy and alive. And why would I choose to suffer and to spend all my energy in complaining and worrying? It is a choice. Sometimes it is not that easy, I get it, but it is a practice. Just like a physical yoga practice, a meditation practice, a sport or a game. 

When I feel insecure, worried or just not comfortable for whatever reason, I acknowledge it, I try to understand why I feel how I feel and either I take the respective steps to change the causing factors, or if that’s not available – here it comes: I get off the topic! This means I take my focus off the circumstance/situation that is not going the way I want it to and think of something, that is going well. There is always SOMETHING good in life!

It is not always easy to do this in an acute situation and obviously this depends on the circumstance. Allowing oneself to grief, be sad or exhausted is important to not ignore or suppress healing processes. If the leap to being actively positive in a situation like this is too big, instead, you want to look for a feeling of relief. Allowing, accepting, giving in are still much softer sensations than resistance, non-acceptance, frustration and anger.

My favorite way to incorporate this approach into my life is to cultivate it actively every day. I like to take a couple of minutes every day to think of or - even better - write down things that I am grateful for. This has had such a beautiful effect in my life, I constantly am aware of all my blessings and how lucky I am. It translates directly into my mood and appreciation for life and all its little things.

Here is my little practice that you could use too, to cultivate gratitude in your life:

  • Take a couple of minutes every day. It can be as little as 4 minutes; everybody has time for that! If you have difficulties establishing and sticking to routines, maybe you want to commit to a set time. For example, right after getting up or during your morning coffee/tea. This way nothing can get in the way of your gratitude practice in the course of the day. Or, you could do it before going to bed. 
  • Write down at least 5 things that you are grateful for. If more come up, write them down, too. 
  • It doesn’t have to be specific. Don’t try too hard, it can be simple: you are grateful for your yummy cup of hot tea that warms you while you are writing, you are grateful for your comfortable home, your cat, your friends, that your mum called you to ask how your meeting went, that one colleague took your side in that meeting, that you are healthy, that you have a nice plan for the weekend, that you took the time to do something for yourself. Whatever comes up.
  • Notice how it makes you feel, indulge in that. Once you start focusing on the good things, you will feel gratitude rising in your chest, spreading in your belly, maybe your cheeks feel warm, you feel a little smile on your lips. Worship this moment of joy.

Try it, once or for a couple of days. Observe how it affects your mood and your overall feeling during the rest of the day. One of my favorite spiritual teachers Abrahm Hicks, that inspired this practice, says: When you hold a positive thought for as little as 17 seconds, another one will follow. I have never counted seconds, but I know that once I tune myself into gratitude and into good feeling thoughts, it becomes easier and easier. It is such a rewarding practice that I want to do it, I want to focus on the good, I want to choose to be grateful and joyful whenever I can.

I hope you feel inspired and will try it. I would love to hear how it went for you!