Living in a state of gratitude has research that backs the benefits.
It’s also totally understandable and realistic that we may not always feel grateful in every moment.
But the truth is this trendy habit of spreading words like “just be happy,” “you have so much to be grateful for,” “choose happiness…” may be detrimental to individuals battling with mental illness.
We can easily transition this reality by choosing to accept that not being okay, is okay.
Just like not being happy, is also okay.
Learning to lean into the sensations, thoughts and ideas that arise when we feel unhappy is actually a gift, right?
We have to remember that even in the light there is an essential amount of dark. And even in the darkest, dark there is a smidge of light.
I recently wasn’t feeling authentic happiness and joy the way I normally do. It sucked. I felt overly exhausted because nothing felt normal to me anymore. Music wasn’t even moving me the way it usually did. I didn’t want to do art because all I could think about was making money. I kept feeling like I was failing.
And then I was reminded that maybe I needed to lean into this feeling.
Maybe instead of fighting it and being frustrated that this was my reality, the best option I had was to lean into it with open arms.
I started thinking about what the feelings arising were trying to tell me… about this time, place, and what exactly is going on? Maybe, I thought, if I allow myself to sit in my unhappy place for some time, I will find the easiest route to move through it-
This is when I remembered that being grateful for what is right in front of me is absolutely hands down magical.
Gratitude is directly associated with happiness.
It boosts serotonin and dopamine which enhances the feelings of pleasure, happiness, and well-being. There is research that declares that “in general, more grateful people are happier, more satisfied with their lives, less materialistic, and less likely to suffer from burnout.” Even further, there are research studies linking gratitude practices and various medical and psychological challenges that show gratitude improves the over-all well-being of individuals.
Being grateful may seem a small and easy task, yet as we share this kindness we don’t even realize that it is creating a domino effect in the world around us. For example, think of the last time you received a small gift from a friend when you least expected. Let’s say this friend hit the nail right on the head and you just opened a gift that is something you’ve desired for a few months now. You express immense gratitude to your friend. What does your friend do next?
This picture is painted with the friend who gave you a gift smiling and feeling the gratitude you shared… then sharing it with whoever else they may interact with. And so on, and so on. It’s a continuation of the happy, grateful feelings and actions shared between individuals that ripple out. When you’re feeling good and share that with someone, who then also feels good~ it’s contagious (in the best way)!
Not only does gratitude make you and others happy, it also contributes greatly to reducing cortisol levels in the body. Being grateful literally promotes a healthier physical and mental state of being. It contributes to blood pressure, pain, and energy levels.
How do I live in gratitude?
For those of you that enjoy meditation or have a curiosity about it, I first and foremost offer this short and sweet guided meditation that is aimed at strengthening happiness by bringing attention to gratitude. I personally find that guided meditations are a quick and easy way to recenter myself. They are also accessible basically anywhere!
Secondly, I have a challenge for ya!
Every time I feel I need to take myself back to a deepened state of gratitude I go to this little journaling activity that always seems to do just that.
Here are some Gratitude Journals I recommend! Check ’em out, grab one if you need.
They also make fabulous gifts for different occasions. I love the idea of gifting one of these to my lady friend and including a card about my gratitude for them <3This one is the one I’d choose for a gift:
Gratitude: A Day and Night Reflection Journal (90 Days) (Inner World)
This one is the #1 Best Seller for Men & Women:
Habit Nest The Gratitude Sidekick Journal: A Habit-Building Gratitude Journal & Mindfulness Journal. The 1 Gratitude Journal for Women & Men.
This one is a weekly practice, which I find is a great place to start (it’s also only $11):
A Year of Gratitude Journal: 52 Weeks of Prompts and Exercises to Cultivate Positivity & Joy (A Year of Reflections Journal)
If you’re not an avid journal writer, no worries! Grab a sheet of paper and something to write with~
This is a technique I found on Pinterest, so I do not take credit for it. While I don’t know the direct science behind it- I think after doing the activity myself and meditating over it- this practice can be used to reflect on introspective feelings and thoughts that directly impact day-to-day life, and ultimately lead to living in a higher state of gratitude regularly.
In this practice we’ll be making three lists, each containing 10 points. The lists are as follows:
A major key here is to not over think it. To get myself to a free flowing place before writing these lists I like to listen to a happy song or mediate~ two very different vibes but pick your poison. Sometimes getting up and moving around a little bit to a groovy dance song is what I need to let my words just fall on paper authentically.
This is the list that should contain all the things that are blooming or planted seeds which set your heart aflame. I prefer to write these in present tense, as a manifestation practice of speaking it as it already is.
Here is an example of my Exciting Desires List from November 2021;
Most Grateful For
As the title states, here you will express the top 10 things you are most grateful for. After writing this list that I have shared below, I looked at it over and over again simply because I was shocked at how easy it is to get caught up in the motions and forget these lovely blessings I have. I encourage you to do the same… write this one day and go back to it in a couple days to revisit the gratitude of that day and see how it carries forward.
Things I Love
This third list really inspired me to continue trying out new adventures and giving myself dedicated time to the things I listed. Seriously, how often do you participate fully in doing the things you love? If you can’t say daily, then that may be a sure fix to living in a better state of gratitude. This is also a great tool for trying to figure out jobs, activities to share with friends and loved ones, and great ways to give yourself some love.
It all goes back to love…
And my beautiful beings it is so very true and honest that in the end it all goes back to love.
I am no doctor or licensed professional, so if you or someone you are close to is struggling with mental illness, please check out some resources I listed on the bottom of this post .
Even in the moments of personal struggle we have opportunities to show gratitude and dose ourselves with high frequency vibrations of gratitude.
The chart above is a visual depiction of our emotions in energetic frequency. According to research “Any time we pause to really focus on gratitude, our vibrational frequency actually increases to 540 megahertz.” You can look at the visual to see that is high on the frequency scale! It’s true, just a few minutes a day can completely change the world in which you are a part of. <3
If you are feeling eager to boost your frequency on a daily basis and ready to incorporate more gratitude in your lifestyle, give this 10-10-10 Challenge a try and please, share it with me!
March 1– Grate(FULL) A month long program including guided gratitude meditations, daily journal prompts, weekly zoom conversations, and more! This program is free and open to all individuals ready to share in community with ~love~
If you’re already excited and ready to sign up for Grate(FULL) you can do that, here
*Feature image of Tumeric Tonic from Sumitra Espresso Lounge in Gulfport, Florida