“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~Marcus Aurelius
By Jennifer Landis
There’s one way to make sure you wake up on the right side of the bed each morning, and that’s by waking up with gratitude in your heart.
Feeling grateful is one of the strongest emotions out there because it’s both a feeling and an action: You actively think about the things for which you’re grateful for which, in turn, makes you feel that way.
A simple practice can have myriad effects on your mental and physical health, too. Aside from your improved outlook on life, you’ll find yourself starting each day with much less stress. How are you supposed to experience stress if you’ve already thought about everything wonderful that’s happening in your life? Research has shown that gratitude can also lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and dull bodily aches and pains.
The best news is that it’s incredibly easy to incorporate a small task into your daily routine so you start each day knowing just how lucky you are. Here are five of them:
1. Open Your Eyes and Focus on One Wonderful Thing
As soon as you wake up in the morning, look around you. There’s sure to be one thing in the room that makes you feel a swell of gratitude. Is it your partner sleeping beside you? The sound of your child breathing peacefully in the baby monitor? Or, a framed photo of you with your best friend? Starting your morning on this positive note will carry you through the rest of your day and help you maintain good vibes. You’ll feel much more ready and excited to hop out of bed and conquer each day.
2. Grab a Pen and Write
Sometimes it can be hard to see things that you should feel grateful for so you might want to try journaling. The effects of journaling on your state of mind have already been widely lauded, but it can be great in your quest for gratitude, too. Simply spend a few minutes each evening writing down the good things that happened that day, and all of the other details that make you feel gratitude. You’ll wake up feeling grateful having spent your night the right way.
3. Start Slowly
There’s no room for gratitude in a rushed morning. In fact, if you’re jumping out of bed, quickly getting ready and rushing out the door, you’re probably not going to head into your day with a sense of serenity. If necessary, start setting your alarm back a few minutes and waking up earlier so you can start your day on a more relaxed note. As you get ready, you’ll have plenty of time to think positively about the day to come, as well as all the wonderful people for whom you work hard with each day.
4. Change Your Tone
Gratitude is all about focus, especially focus on positive happenings and emotions. If you’re constantly complaining about personal problems, you’re more prone to feelings of anxiety and depression. You’d be hard-pressed to find a routinely grateful person whose tone and topics of conversation brought on depression. That’s because he or she is likely to talk about opportunities, blessings, gifts and other great things that happen. On the other hand, ungrateful people focus on regrets, loss, needs and the things they deserve.
A change in your tone can wipe away this negativity, though. All you have to do is start speaking in a more grateful tone to experience the good vibes.
5. Stick With It
It’s not likely you’ll wake up tomorrow, think about what you feel lucky to have and automatically turn into a beacon of gratitude. Instead, this type of practice takes time, and you need to allow yourself plenty of it to start feeling the effects of your mindful practice. However, with patience and regular practice, you’re sure to gradually see the changes setting in. As previously mentioned, gratitude can have serious, palpable effects on both your mental and physical health, so stick with it – it’s worth the effort, even if it takes a while to realize that.
Now that you have the tools to experience and express gratitude – and of course, there are more than just five methods to try – it’s time to use them. Perhaps the best thing about becoming a more grateful person is that those around you will see the change in you and might just try and emulate your practice in order to achieve the same results. In short, the world could be a much happier, more serene place.
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, writer, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She enjoys drinking tea, dark chocolate, and rainy day snuggles with her daughter. She enjoys sunny days, too, but finds they are less conducive for snuggles. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.