How’s your gratitude muscle?

As I write this tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA which is why I’m talking about gratitude or being thankful (take your pick which word to use, I’m using them interchangeably).

Yes, I know I’ve written about this topic before and I make no apologies, because it is important, and even if you’ve read all my blogs, do you have a gratitude practice?

Why Gratitude?

I’m not going to repeat the benefits in detail, all I’ll say is that there’s plenty of research to demonstrate that having a gratitude practice makes you happier, strengthens relationships, reduces stress and depression and increases your levels of enthusiasm, optimism, and energy.

It also builds resilience to help you get through challenging times, and enables you to bounce back more quickly from adversity.

And of course I know that life didn’t turn out as you hoped, but there’s still plenty to be thankful for. Having a gratitude practice means you’ll be more aware of the many blessings in your life and there are many.

As an aside, I notice that those clients on the Let Go and Move On Programme who are consistent with their gratitude practice gain more from the programme than those who aren’t.

So as far as I can see, there are no downsides to practising gratitude, well maybe only one; making it a habit!

I get it, so how do I make gratitude a habit?

I’d love to be say that if you spend ten minutes writing down everything you’re grateful for, then you’ll have it sussed, however as you’ll already have worked out, you need to actively practise gratitude, it needs to become a daily habit. It’s like a muscle, and therefore needs regular use to make it strong.

And there’s a month to (dare I say it) Christmas so if you start now, you have time to build the resilience that will help you to get through.

Here are some suggestions

Habits take root when you’ve been doing them for a month or so and start to see the benefits, so start simply with something that fits easily into your daily schedule. Here are several suggestions.

  • When you journal end by writing three things you’re grateful for,
  • First thing in the morning before you get out of bed, think of three things to be thankful for about your day,
  • Or do the same last thing at night.
  • I have a small stone that fits comfortably in my hand that I keep by my bed. Last thing at night, I hold it in my hand, think about my day and ask myself: What’s one thing that I’m grateful for today?

Doing this means that I search through all the good things that happened and I usually find more than one thing. And as a bonus I end the day in a positive frame of mind. And even if negative days, there’s always something good that happened.

Sometimes if I feel like it, I also say thank you for one thing that made me laugh, and one thing I achieved today.

I love this practice, it’s simple, it fits easily into my day and has been my habit for over a year now.

And a tip

There’s a school of thought which suggests that if you consider the reason you’re grateful for something, you’ll feel it more deeply so end your thanks with ‘because …..’ I admit I’d forgotten to do that until researching this blog, so I’ll be re-introducing it into my practice.

How about starting right now (well after you’ve read to the end of the blog)?

A great way to get your gratitude muscle working is to spend ten minutes writing down as many things as you can think of. See if you can get to 20. Here’s a selection of the things and people I’m grateful for today (some of which I’ve included the ‘because….’ I admit it makes it harder).

I am grateful for;

  1. with my parentsHaving parents who loved and cared for me because the knowledge that I was loved gives me an unshakeable inner strength.
  2. My marriage of 21 years to my wonderful husband and best friend Roger because he’s the only man I’ve ever loved and I’m grateful that he loves me back. We’ve been through a lot together and are stronger together because of it.the 2 of us again
  3. The first cup of coffee in the morning because, well I love the smell of coffee in the kitchen and it wakes me up,
  4. Being able to travel, to see the world, meet new people and have wonderful experiences which have enriched my life and opened my eyes to different ways of living,
  5. Friends. I am blessed with so many good friends who’ve been supportive through everything. AngieI’m especially grateful for those we met through MTL and with whom we shared those most healing words ‘me too.’ We’ve healed and grown together and without them and their friendship I wouldn’t be who I am now and to able to do what I do. I’m also grateful for those people you meet sometimes and it feels like you’ve known them forever, thank you Angie.
  6. The freedom and flexibility I have in my life because we don’t have children. I was able to give up the career and job I hated and was making me deeply unhappy and build my own business.
  7. Having this business which has given me so much, being able to make a positive difference to others brings me so much joy, the skills I’ve learned have expanded me and my comfort zone and brought back my enthusiasm. To my clients past and present, to those who read my newsletter and others who send me feedback, a huge thanks to you all,
  8. The opportunities I have for continuing my own healing and development and to work out who I am in the world, well because I get so much out of learning. Story wisdom weekendAnd most recently for the opportunity to attend the Story Wisdom Weekend where I learned so much about myself in a wonderful supportive way, (l-r me, Julia Barnickle, Kate, Beverley Glick, Sarah Maliphant & Rona Steinberg)
  9. The wonderful women I’ve met and worked with since setting up my business. What surprises and delights me every day is me the generosity, both of those also supporting childless women and other women in business. Friendhip by Lisa McLoughlinBecause working on your own and at home can be lonely and, especially my Mastermind group and Business Club ladies have my back, are always there to support and encourage me. Helen, Karen, Linda, Lisa, Melanie, Pat, Priya and Stacey, I am proud to call you my friends and I am more grateful to you than I can say.
  10. Four people specifically who have and continue to coach me, who can see me and believe unquestionably in me and the difference I want to make in the world. They are Jeremy Lazarus, Karen Knott, Karen Anderson and Beverley Glick.
  11. Cheese, especially Wensleydale because it reminds me of where I grew up and is especially great with fruitcake.2015-11-25 14.11.13
  12. Walks with the grass beneath my feet and blue sky above (or any coloured sky will do as long as I’m out in the open), because here I feel at peace and it enriches my soul,
  13. Being able to spend time with my parents and help them both before they died, because that time is precious and it was a small thanks for what they’ve given me,
  14. My faith in God because it gives me a firm foundation, peace, belonging and wonder,Rockchoir at Abbey Road
  15. My curiosity about the world to explore it and have new experiences,
  16. Singing in Rockchoir, because I’ve made some wonderful friends, had some fantastic experiences, much of which brings me fun and joy and, through our concerts we’ve brought joy to many others and raised a lot of money for charity,
  17. Books, proper paper books because they open new worlds, teach me may things and enable me to get lost in them for hours,
  18. My creativity I can’t draw or paint and until recently I thought this meant that I wasn’t creative. Not true, I can cook, take photographs, sing, sew, colour in, and of course there are many things I do for this business which are creative. So my new found creativity brings me excitement as I try new things and stretch myself in different ways.
  19. Growing up in the Yorkshire Dales, beautiful scenery,limestone walls and sheep because I got to experience and appreciate the countryside which I love and where I feel at home,Yorkshire Dales
  20. My family with whom the bonds have grown stronger in the last year since my Dad died, because they remind me of who I am and where I come from,

These are the first 20 things I thought of and I know that I could continue because there are so many blessings in my life.

Give it a go and let us know

Does my list resonate with you, and what else can you add?

Once you’ve given your muscle a workout please let us know below how easy it was to get it working (you can use a different name) and if you think I might be able to help you and you’re not sure, how about booking a complimentary session via my online diary and spend 20 to 30 minutes to get clarity on how we can work together to create a life you love.
The hard sell is not my style and I know you’ll get something from our conversation.

8 thoughts on “How’s your gratitude muscle?”

  1. Lovely post, Lesley, and thank you for the reminder to focus on the good things!

    I love that you’re grateful for Wensleydale cheese with fruitcake and all those other amazing Yorkshire things (The Dales etc).

    I’m grateful for this reminder, and for your friendship.

  2. Well we’re clearly all a very open-hearted lot because this made me cry too! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful list, for including me on it as one of your friends, for helping me heal wounds, for being present in my life – AND for adding something extra powerful to my own gratitude practice – the BECAUSE word. Wonderful 🙂
    Helen Rebello recently posted…How to Tame the Stress SirenMy Profile

  3. I feel honoured to have featured in your gratitude top 20, Lesley. So heartfelt, so real, so tender – a collection of stories that speaks volumes about the kind of (kind) person you are 🙂 And thanks for the gift of ‘because’. I’ve been keeping to a daily gratitude practice for several years now and that will add a layer of richness.
    Beverley Glick recently posted…A “spesh” time when I played fast and loose with the English languageMy Profile

  4. Thank you so much Linda, Priya, Karen, Helen, Lisa & Beverley,
    This is probably my most courageous and vulnerable post I’ve written so far & after I posted it I had a big vulnerabilty hangover (which you’re familiar with because you’ve read Brene Brown).
    And it has been Okay, well it’s been more than Okay. Your comments have shown me that when we are vulnerable and open, we get empathy and loving kindness in return.


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