Cultivating gratitude to experience wellbeing

Welcome back to the Women’s Wellness Challenge! I had to take a break for a week due to some personal challenges so we didn’t quite finish in January. But now we are back and ready to take on the fifth and final week of the challenge which is all about transcendence. Today’s post is about the importance of cultivating gratitude to experience transcendence to higher state of wellbeing.

It might sound a bit woo woo but transcendence is simply the quality of being able to go beyond normal limits or boundaries. When it comes to your wellbeing, I see transcendence as going beyond what is considered “normal” in society. It is the power of positive psychology which focuses on taking yourself from surviving to thriving rather than just aiming to relieve suffering. Gratitude is an important tool which can support you on this path without you having to make major changes in your life.

What does it mean to cultivate gratitude?

Gratitude is a positive feeling that we can experience ourselves or express to others. It is the state of feeling thankful for something or someone in your life or even for life itself! When we feel grateful, we focus on something good that we have and we allow those positive feelings to grow. Sometimes gratitude can be a powerful and overwhelming emotion which can even bring us to tears.

We can cultivate gratitude by priming ourselves to see and acknowledge the good things in our lives rather than only noticing the things we want to change. This can be easier said than done because as humans we naturally want to look for problems and find solutions! But there are some simple habits we can build which can help us to experience feelings of gratitude more often in our lives.

For example:

  • Being in the present moment during our daily tasks e.g. enjoying a cup of tea or the process of getting ready in the morning
  • Going out of our way to thank others in person or writing thank you notes when they do something for us (or just for being them!)
  • Visiting beautiful places in nature or in the area we live and truly soaking in the view
  • Taking a moment to connect with the food that we eat at every meal and appreciating how nature created it to sustain us
  • Showing gratitude for our physical bodies through self care routines, healthy eating and appropriate movement
  • Leaving positive reviews to support a company after a good experience with purchase or service
  • Writing a daily gratitude journal of the things we are thankful for
  • Practicing a gratitude meditation such as the one in today’s challenge

These are all small things we can start to build into our lives to help us to start to feel more grateful and appreciative of the good things we have. Shifting your attitude towards one of gratitude can create momentum and become an upward spiral of positive emotions. On the other hand, forgetting to be grateful can lead to feelings of lack, disappointment and dissatisfaction.

My recent experience with cultivating gratitude

Recently I lost my way (as we all do from time to time) and found myself overly focusing on a couple of particular negative situations. Instead of appreciating the things I did have, I became overly attached to fixing what I thought was wrong with my life. I started to blame specific things for my negative mood and I felt like unless they changed, I could not feel well. I found myself justifying my feelings and indulging in my own pity party when in reality I needed some tough love!

My feelings of lack resulted in a decision which led me down a misaligned path. Only when it descended into chaos did I finally come full circle and realise how good things were to begin with. Nothing had changed except my perception. My experiences had changed my perspective and in the process I found a new sense of gratitude for my life situation. I didn’t even need to write a gratitude journal or practice a gratitude mediation. Sometimes it is simply life that gives you the medicine you need.

Gratitude and positive emotions

Once I experienced this feeling of appreciation and gratitude, it was like a light came on inside of me. Where it had felt heavy and shadowy before was filed with a sense of lightness and ease. My physical and mental energy increased immediately, despite not having a good nights sleep, eating well or having time for my yoga practice over the last week. It really demonstrated to me the power of the emotional and mental bodies.

Research has showed gratitude is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, healthier relationships, more resilience, better sleep and lower inflammation – just to name a few! Cultivating feelings of gratitude for the beautiful things in our lives is therefore a natural medicine we can use to support our health and wellbeing at any time we choose. Sometimes it can feel difficult when our lives are not going the way that we wish they would. However, there is always something to hold on to and be grateful, no matter how small.

This little guy always gives me something to be happy about on challenging days!

Today’s challenge: Practice a gratitude meditation

Today’s simple task to immediately improve your wellbeing is to take 5-15 minutes to practice a gratitude meditation. Find a comfortable place to sit and listen to the guided meditation below. Observe your feelings before and after the practice then take a few moments to reflect and write down anything that came up for you. Listen to this guided mediation daily whenever you feel stuck in a rut and I guarantee you will at least feel a tiny bit better!

Over to you…

  • Comment: Is gratitude a tool you consciously use to improve your wellbeing? Why not share your experiences below
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