One of my favorite phrases of recent years has been “gratitude is the attitude”, because I really do feel that a spirit of gratitude can make just about anything better. And there is a science to support that gratitude can act as a natural antidepressant.
Positivity Psychology explains that “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.”. So here are a few of my favorite rituals that allow me opportunities to infuse gratitude into my everyday life.
Ritual 1: Giving Grace
I like to give thanks and pray before meals and it has evolved in certain spaces into a gratitude dance circle before each meal. A meal is a great place to reflect and reinforce our feelings of gratitude. Before you start eating, go from one end of the table and encourage each person to share something they are thankful for in their lives. It might seem like a little thing but it can really set the tone and add meaning and presence to gatherings and create a positive tone for the rest of the meal.
Ritual 2: Write Some Stuff
Despite the many “self-made” messages we get in the world, none of us ever truly do anything alone. Take an opportunity to think of someone in your life who has made a positive and significant impact and write them a letter expressing how much that person means to you. If you want to take it even deeper, meet them in person or online via video and read the letter aloud. Pay attention to the person’s reaction and be in the present to lock in the memory to carry with you. Make it into a habit of getting the people you love their flowers while they are here to enjoy them.
Ritual 3: Talking To Yourself
Sometimes we have to be our own cheerleaders and mantras can be powerful tools for all of us. I know many of you have seen the adorable videos of the little kids giving themselves powerful pep talks in the mirror and I am here to let you know, it’s not just for kids!!! Create a mirror mantra for yourself giving gratitude to yourself for things big and small. Thank yourself for getting out of bed, thank your body for carrying you throughout the day, thank your mind for being alert and present when you need it. Find at least 3 things each morning to thank yourself for and then give yourself a few I Love Yous and go out and have an AMAZING day!
Ritual 4: Intentionally Thankful
Try a new experience with your friends or family and look for the opportunity of teachable moments such as through community service or nature or educational experiences. Come together to appreciate all of the good in our own world and expand your world by sharing with others. Take a moment to bear witness to the situations of others who may live differently from us. Gain a greater perspective on the plight of others and that we are all connected here on Earth.
Ritual 5: The Grass is Greener Where You Water It
It’s hard to talk about gratitude and not speak about journaling. The mistake we sometimes make is that we turn journaling into work when it can be a very simple practice. Create a gratitude habit for yourself that is doable such as writing down three positive things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed. Keeping a journal and a pen on the nightstand will serve as a reminder and help you establish this ritual. Research shows that gratitude journaling can put you in a dramatically better mood and the more that you practice, the more that you can prolong that feeling. The more you practice gratitude, the more that you draw it to you.