Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ten Ideas for Creating a Personal Gratitude Practice

Having a commitment to a practice of gratitude will transform your life.  Both the science and anecdotal evidence has proven that people, who live from a sense of gratitude, sleep better, have deeper friendships and relationships, better health, are more resilient, have increased productivity and energy, and are just generally happier.  I could go on and on with this list, and I will, but at another time and place.

Today I want share a few ideas for establishing a gratitude practice.

Made this gratitude journal at The Girl’s Art Party Weekend

1.  Let’s begin with the tried and true idea of keeping a Gratitude Journal.  Sarah Ban Breathnach first introduced this transformative idea in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  This practice involves writing down 3-10 things each day in a journal. You could chose to do this any time during the day, but it is often suggested to do this just before heading to bed.  When we do so it seems to help us relax and fall asleep with a less troubled, worry-free mind.

 2. Write a heart-felt note of thanks to someone.  This could be a postcard or a note card.  Send it to the people that you often take for granted or over-look, but who make your life better.  Or for a really big challenge write a note of gratitude to someone who has challenged you, but who has helped you to grow in some way. This letter may or may not be appropriate to send. You will have to judge that.  Whether you send it or not doesn’t matter, there is value in you having written the note and energetically putting that vibe out into the world.

3. Create an awareness talisman.  This could be a bracelet which helps to remind you to stop and notice something for which you are grateful. You could even switch it to the other wrist each time you pause to connect intentionally with what your are grateful for.  You could also keep a tally of how many times you made the switch each day as a kind of barometer of how you are doing at incorporating more gratitude into your life each day.  I know for me I find this kind of personal challenge to be fun and motivating.  I like to see if I can top my previous days tally.  Another talisman could be as simple as a polished stone you keep in your pocket or on your desk.  Your touchstone could be anything that has personal meaning and will assist you in remembering to connect with your gratitude.

4. Use gratitude beads daily to kinesthetically count your blessings…one blessing for each bead.  This idea is adapted from the use of prayer beads within many different religious traditions to count the number of times they recite a mantra, chant, prayer, or devotion.

I am thankful for hiking trails

5. Go on a Gratitude walk or hike.  This could be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or my own personal favorite is to get out in nature at least once a week for a longer hike.  There is nothing like taking a pause during the week to commune with nature.  The exercise helps to release happy brain chemicals so that alone is good for lifting your spirits. Then intentionally focusing your attention in the direction of gratitude amplifies this affect substantially. 

I like to take my camera to capture visually what I’m grateful for and include these images in my gratitude journal…it’s fun and satisfying.  Plus, I have an unproven theory that combining both a gratitude practice and a creativity practice together will create a synergistic affect on our quality of life and well being.  It wouldn’t surprise me if combining these two practices doesn’t increase these benefits substantially. Science hasn’t studied this synergy yet (least not that I am aware of), but they have studied each practice alone and have learned they each by them self have a dramatic impact on our quality of life. I’m definitely curious about this.  For me personally anytime I can weave creativity in it is both more motivating and life enhancing.

6. Celebrate your senses. When we mindfully connect and use all of our senses it enhances our ability to also connect with our sense of gratitude.  Perhaps you could combine a practice of daily gratitude with the ritual of sipping your morning tea or coffee.  How could you involve more of your senses in simple routines you take for granted?  Perhaps you could create a ritual during your daily shower where you thank all of the various parts of your beautiful body.  When I let it–the warm soothing flow of water helps me to open my gratitude floodgates.

7. Write a gratitude haiku, poem, prayer or vow.  Reread them aloud when you need to reconnect with your gratitude. You could use the photos you took during your gratitude walk to illustrate and/or inspire your words.

8. Mindfully commit to using the language of the heart. People who live in a mindset of gratitude pepper their language generously with words such as gifts, giving, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance.  Become aware of your own “language.”  When you notice it’s heading in a depressed, woe is me direction, redirect your thoughts in a direction that lifts your spirits.  Don’t beat yourself up about this…just notice and gently move your thoughts in a more positive uplifting and joy-filled direction.

9. Act as if.  When you become aware of feeling down in the dumps and you want to feel better about the world use your body to redirect your mindset.  Intentionally smile, give a belly laugh, turn on uplifting music and dance or sing.  The body mind connection is a powerful thing.  You may not feel like smiling when you begin, but your mind and emotions will follow your bodies lead.

I traded my “measuring stick” for a Gratitude Wand

10. Trade in your measuring stick for a walking stick and/or gratitude wand.  When our eyes are always focused on our neighbors, what they have, how they are more talented and gifted, how life is easier for them. etc., it is impossible for us to have a mindset of gratitude.  It isn’t physiologically possible for us to simultaneously experience feelings of gratitude and feelings of envy, criticism, or judgment.

I have some additional ideas for gratitude practices which I’ve played with, which incorporate more creativity.  I think this makes them all the more effective in enhancing ones sense of well-being.  I’ll be introducing these to you over time.  So stick around. 

This post is already “too” long.  Didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much information.  I’m probably too guilty of that tendency.

Anyway what do you think?  What have you learned about gratitude in your own life?  How do you practice gratitude in your life? Do you have a regular practice?  What have you tried? What’s worked? What’s been a challenge? Or any other comments you may have?

Please leave a comment below.  I’m always eager to learn and discover something new.

Knocking the Dust of the Welcome Mat

As Gratitude and I have been “dusting and redecorating” here in preparation for reopening our doors I’ve spent a bit of time reading back through the archives.  You can view this earlier smattering of writing here under categories–> pre 2012.

I was pleasantly surprised there were actually some good nuggets in those early posts. However, when I reread my first put-out-the-welcome-mat post titled Smiles and Cartwheels I found myself with a rather sheepish grin plastered across my face.

For integrity and clarity sake I decided I wanted to write an update to this first post.  You can read that original post here.  It might help to put this addendum in into some context.

So here I am sitting there rereading this post with this silly smile slowly creeping across my face as I realized Miss Artiste and Miss Just-get-r-done still don’t have regular open lines of communication established.

Just one chat isn’t going to cut it!  Duh!  Even occasional chats won’t do.

The three of us are a work in progress.  I still find myself wrestling with these two voices in my head…working to find the balance in there somewhere.

One thing is for sure.  Committing to regular chat sessions would likely help.

Yep! I need to recommit to this.  And I’ve learned the best way for me to acknowledge my growth and willingness to make a stronger commitment is to “HeART-fully” embrace it.   (i.e. Use art and heart to empower myself).

So partly to strengthen and inspire this commitment to myself and partly to have a fun image to include in this post I decided I had to pull together a quick artistic somethin-or-other.

Chatting-with-the-inner voices
Miss Artiste, Gratitude, Miss Just-get-r-done and me having a chat

And of course:

Miss Artiste had her say (“fuss with the sketch here …that line isn’t right..maybe it needs some color here”)

And Miss Just-get-r-done had her say (“forget the image…just get the million other things done…move on already”)

As you can see from the image above we stopped the tug-pull, had a small chat, found some common ground, and we are now basking in a bit of balance.

Miss Artiste got her beautiful art…she’s ecstatically happy…cause the “quick image” was comparatively quick and came out better that she could have dreamed and totally different than she (and I) had imagined it initially.

Miss Just-get-r-done is only mildly annoyed, but she agrees this image (and the story of that process) is important to the “work” we are being called to do here on this site and  by extension the world.

And Gratitude she loves having an opportunity to play mediator at my little hash-it-out-sessions.  And me…I love having her at my meetings-of-the-mind.  So much more gets accomplished when Gratitude is allowed to weigh in.

We’re all happy and ready to once again put out the welcome mat.  We are thrilled you are here. Gratitude is curious about what you think?  How do you manage to balance these two fuss budgets? Or do you? Please leave a comment.

Creating Time

I was thrilled to finally meet Marney Makridakis during her book tour in Portland, Oregon photo courtesy of: Nanleah Micks

In June, I was privileged to meet Marney Makridakis while on her book tour for her new book Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life  

Oh and the weekend was extra fun, because I am one of several contributors to this visually stunning book, packed with insight and creative ideas for exploring our relationship with time.

Marney is the founder of, the groundbreaking online community for creators of all kinds.  She is a gifted speaker, workshop leader, coach, and mentor.  I’ve personally been blessed by her extraordinary talents many times over.

In fact, it was while being a student of her inaugural session of ARTbundance Coach Training Certification, that Gratitude first found her way into my life and onto my sketchbook page.  Marney and ARTbundance, an approach of self discovery through creativity,  has been an importance influence Gratitude’s evolving story and journey.

If you’ve been feeling frazzled by feeling “there’s never enough time” Creating Time will open you to a whole way of thinking about time.  You can purchase your own personal copy by clicking here.

And yep, I am an affiliate of Marney’s and I receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  But I also only recommend people who I truly believe in and have personally worked with.  Everything Marney puts her hands on is top notch.  I’m definitely an avid fan.  She’s been a huge influence on my own work and an important mentor in my life.