How many times in your life has someone said, “you should be grateful for…” and finishes the sentence with something along the lines of your job, your significant other, an opportunity someone else gave you etc.?
Given that Thanksgiving is upon us, ‘tis the season to be thankful. Yet, rarely are we ever told that who we are inside and the attributes we bring to the table are a cause for gratitude. Yes, of course having particular belongings and supportive people in your life are blessings, however, the true blessing begins with knowing your worth. Making yourself the focal point of gratitude for once may be the catalyst necessary to make change.
Practicing gratitude helps rewire the brain and body to think and feel more positively. It is scientifically proven that gratitude reduces stress, anxiety, depression, pain and builds an overall rapport of satisfaction with one’s life. Gratitude helps enhance self-esteem, therefore driving productivity and performance on a day to day basis.
For those of us consistently navigating this journey of self-discovery, why not turn the practice of gratitude on its head and lean into making it about you? To quote Rhonda Byrne, “unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give anybody.”
“Unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give anybody.” – Rhonda Byrne
Learning to redirect my gratitude inward as opposed to external factors I “should be grateful for” is a journey I’m currently on. Seven months ago, I decided to quit my job and pivot my career path from fashion publicist to pursue my passions. It was of course exciting and freeing after having lived the 9-5 life for so long, however, I struggled with my sense of identity. I was so used to being Aisha the director of communications for… or Aisha with the cool fashion job, it was hard to just be pleased with myself now that the fancy titles had been stripped away. I realized I needed to tap into that sense of pride and joy I for so long attached to external factors. So, after taking a few cues from various Super Soul Sunday podcast episodes and obsessively reading the works of Brené Brown, I decided to look within and turn to gratitude.
Finding gratitude within ourselves, similar to self-care, is a practice. I had a pocket-sized journal lying around that I hadn’t used, and each night tasked myself with writing in it a short list of things I was grateful for—not something someone else did or said, something about *myself* that made me grateful. It’s a bit awkward at first, because we may not always feel we’re deserving or that we’re being vain and selfish. However, once you decide to let go of that stigma and let your light shine, eventually it will become a habit. Taking a moment to reflect on how I conquered the day or what aspects of myself I was grateful for made a world of difference.
Given that writing is one of my passions, a journal for me was expected—however, showing self-gratitude can be achieved in a multitude of ways.
Inhale, and Exhale
Gratitude meditation can either be done while sitting with your eyes closed in a quiet room or simply as you sip your morning coffee. Try to find a moment in each day to breath in, and out—and call to mind one thing about yourself that makes you grateful. Perhaps it’s your ingenuity and ability to make something out of nothing or perhaps your sense of humor that can brighten even the dullest of moods. Finding that stillness to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and how wonderful you are should become as common as an inhale, and exhale.
Jot It Down
Get creative with your gratitude journaling and instead opt for a gratitude jar. Throughout the day or week, jot down on post-it notes what you feel most grateful for and compile them in a jar somewhere in your bedroom. Every time you take a glimpse at the jar, you’re instantly reminded of how much you have to be grateful for and how much more you can still add to it.
Practice simply saying “Thank You” when given a compliment by someone else instead of rushing to dismiss or downplay it and from there letting it sink in. Allow your body to feel the joy of those kind words and try not to question it. You can also take it one step further and write these kind things down, either in list form or on pieces of paper to add to that jar. Refer back whenever you’re feeling down for a quick reminder of why you deserve all the blessings life has to offer.
Say it Loud!
Begin or end the day by saying out loud what you are grateful for. Whether it’s when you first open your eyes or in the shower, saying positive affirmations aloud have lasting effects. Studies have shown that this type of self-talk increases motivation. By saying what you are grateful for, the sentiments become more tangible.
Treat Yo’ Self
Nailed that work assignment? Completed something you have been putting off for some time now? Reward yourself with an item you’ve had your eye on, book that trip, grab some ice cream or perhaps request a personal day so you can binge watch your favorite show. There won’t always be someone else there to pat you on the back, so why not do it yourself.
**This story was originally featured on Shine