There have been times in my life when I feel defeated, depressed, or unworthy. Sometimes these moments are far too overwhelming for me to deal with and it is in these moments that gratitude has been the only thing to pull me out of these funks. I am thankful for the obvious and momentous things, like my family and my home, and I realize that I live a very fortunate life. But to me, gratitude is just as important for the little things like my cup of coffee in the morning, the possum that eats all the ticks in my back yard, or the friendly person I pass walking into the store that shares a smile and hello with me. When I notice what seems to be the simplest things to be thankful for, I start to see a bigger shift in my attitude. Gratitude makes me feel lighter and less weighed down by the things that can be deflating.
Practicing gratitude has many benefits, many of which I’ve experienced first-hand. Science says that people that practice gratitude sleep better, feel more alive, express more compassion and kindness, and even have a stronger immune system. Science is convincing, but when I am truly practicing present moment gratitude, there is a shift to joy that feels so good.
For a long time, I would read articles about keeping a gratitude journal and practicing gratitude and these routines would last days, sometimes weeks, and then would slowly fade away as many resolutions with good intentions do. It wasn’t until I set a gratitude reminder, that I was truly practicing being thankful and present fully at once.
My gratitude reminder is a butterfly, so every time I see a butterfly wherever I am I stop and I think of something that I am grateful for in that very moment. Seeing a butterfly is always unexpected but a very frequent occurrence, (especially in Texas) so thinking of something I’m grateful for in so many different settings really brought to my attention that there are so many small and great things to be thankful for. No matter what mood I’m in or how my day is going, when I see my butterfly reminder I can always find something to be grateful for. When I’m truly practicing gratitude it is impossible for me to experience any negative emotions. In my opinion, gratitude is the most powerful tool we have to combat negative emotion and create joy and connection instead. First of all, if you are reading this, thank you! Second, what is your gratitude reminder? Once you have your reminder, use it!!!