I love the approach of small changes to get big shifts. I believe that if you will make one small change every month for the next twelve months, you’ll change your life forever. One of the important pieces of this is to focus on making just one change at a time. That is the only way that we can stick with the changes.
Haley Prophet is the Senior Wellbeing Specialist at Garmin. She also believes that small changes can make big shifts to our mentality. She says that we need to find little ways that we can look at ourselves positively again.
Why Practice Gratitude?
One small change that Haley suggests is starting a gratitude practice. Why does practicing gratitude help our mentality?
Gratitude has a variety of positive physical effects:
- It builds a stronger immune system
- It leads to fewer aches and pains
- It can lower blood pressure
- It leads to better sleep
It also has a variety of other benefits.
- People who practice gratitude are happier and more positive
- They are more helpful and compassionate
- They are more forgiving
- They have stronger relationships
- They are less lonely and isolated
- They are less stressed
- They are more creative
There are a variety of ways to practice gratitude. Just like with exercise, it is about finding a practice that works for you.
Haley shares a practice that she does with a class at Garmin. She has people start making a list of things they are grateful for. Sometimes they really stumble at 5, 10, or 15 things. But she’ll challenge them to think of 20 fun things that make them excited that day or that they’re grateful or happy for. Some of the things that Haley suggests we can be grateful for are that the sun came out, the smell of pumpkin, or a lit candle in your bedroom. Making a list is a powerful gratitude practice.
Jennifer Robinson shares her morning gratitude practice, and says she lays on the floor beside her bed and just names things she is grateful for. With each thing she names, she tries to explain why and express gratitude for something else that is connected. For example, if she says she is grateful that it is raining, she will then ask why? Because rain makes the grass green, and I am grateful for green grass. Why? Because green grass is awake and alive and beautiful, I am grateful for beauty. And so on.
I love gratitude, it makes November my favorite month, and I am always trying to express gratitude to those around me. I have found many other gratitude practices that you can try:
- Keeping a journal: This could be a daily or weekly practice where you spend 5 – 10 minutes each evening or each Saturday night writing down things that you are grateful for. One of the benefits of a journal is that you can look back over things that made you grateful during the past year.
- Remember the past: Which brings us to remembering the past. Look back over the experiences you’ve had and remember the positives and what you have to be grateful for.
- Write a thank you note: To a friend, to a parent, to a teacher, to your child’s teacher, to a minister.
- Make a thank you phone call: There are also many people that you can call and thank.
- Buy a paper calendar and write 3 things that you are grateful for each day: This is a fun change to a simple list. It can help you to reflect on each day and to keep a record that is easy to look back at.
- Be grateful for something you are looking forward to: Make plans that you are looking forward to. It could be a movie with a friend this weekend, or a trip this summer.
- Choose one small object that you use every day and express gratitude for it: This could be your favorite mug, your best sweater, or your toothbrush.
- Express gratitude before meals: Express gratitude to everyone involved in getting the meal to the table.
- Create a gratitude jar: Put brightly colored papers beside it and put it in a place where anyone in your family can add to it.
Gratitude Changes Everything
In my own experience, gratitude changes everything. This summer, our offices at Your Wellness Connection flooded in a bad overnight storm in Kansas City. There was damage downstairs, and it was going to take a lot of work to get it fixed. Then, just a week or two after the first flooding, when we had repairs underway, we got hit by another storm and had more flooding. It was one of the moments when you start to think, why is this all happening right now?
But during this experience I immediately saw things to be grateful for. My team at Your Wellness Connection got together and moved everyone on the lower level into different rooms and areas so that they could continue to practice. I had wonderful contractors to work with who came to assess the damage, and then repaired it as quickly as possible. Despite the damage, we were able to continue helping people, even if the space was a little more cramped.
As Jennifer says, gratitude defaults to joy. For me, gratitude changed my feelings, it let in the joy, and it changed everything.