Today’s topic: Gratitude. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and since this is a season where we are particularly conscious of what we are thankful for – let’s talk a deep dive into gratitude and I’m going to share three exercises that you can implement to increase your gratitude and your mindfulness for being grateful all year long.
1 – Create Savoring Rituals
To savor: to notice and enjoy small everyday positive moments. This has been shown to increase happiness, resilience, well-being and subjective life-satisfaction when studied.
Interestingly – when we think about savoring things we often think of days like our wedding, the birth of children, the trip of a lifetime or something like winning the lottery – if you missed how I feel about the lottery – scroll back to check out the BONUS Episode where I share my funniest unpopular opinions.
Even though these intense and life-altering moments are what comes to mind, it has been shown that it’s not the intensity of the positive experiences but rather the frequency of these positive experiences that has the most impact on our happiness – so that means that if we start looking for these positive experiences in the everyday and create rituals where we are able to savor them, we can increase our own happiness without spending the entire travel budget on a jaunt around the world or having another baby! Yippe Skippee!
To savor is the capacity to notice, appreciate, enhance and prolong the positive experiences in this one precious life of yours – and thereby increasing your awareness of the pleasurable sensations you are experiencing. This savoring leads to mindfulness – being fully present in the moment.
Think about savoring your favorite food – for me, when I take that first bite of piping hot lobster bisque when out to dinner – I close my eyes, I probably say mmmmmmm, and I savor the taste, the texture, the warmth, the flavors, the combination of things, and bring myself just to that moment.
You can do the same with positive experiences throughout your day. Here’s how:
- stop multitasking
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Choose to seek out 2x per day to savor
- You can savor the build-up or anticipation of the experience, the experience itself, and then revel in or savor the memory of those experiences.
First, identify everyday experiences that bring you pleasure – a hot shower, your morning cup of coffee, or the silence in the car as you go from work to daycare pickup.
Second, experience the pleasure of those moments as they happen. Slow down. Stop rushing. Focus on what you are seeing, feeling hearing, and experiencing. Savor the moments.
Set a goal to savor 2 experiences a day for the next 2 weeks!
2 – Experience Awe
Awe – those emotions that arise in you in response to experiences that you perceive to be strikingly vast and change the way you see the world.
These moments force you to be present. They make you say “WOW!”
First, identify or recall experiences that generated those feelings of awe in your in the past.
Second, create an awe diary – write down the date, details of the experience and the positive thoughts or feelings that are evoked.
Continue to add awe-inspiring experiences to your awe journal going forward and seek out those experience that inspire awe!
3 – Foster Admiration – this one is particularly for you if you are walking through life in partnership or relationship
It’s been found that maintaining fondness and admiration in a relationship is the antidote to contempt and can prevent the loss of respect and empathy for your partner.
It helps you to look out for positive qualities in your partner and be diligent about actively showing appreciation for and admiration of these qualities. This generates positive thoughts and feelings towards both your partner themselves and your relationship in general.
If you do this – foster admiration in your relationship – a 2009 study showed that actively identifying and thanking your partner for these positive attributes create positivity deposits, they grow over time, just like compound interest, one of my all-time favorite things… and this results in a longevity bonus for your relationship of about 10 years.
Hold the phone. Did I just say that SCIENCE has shown that practicing and fostering admiration in your relationship can extend it’s life by 10 years?! Yes, I did, in deed.
If you’ve been multitasking come on back, because I’m going to share with you the process for fostering this admiration in your relationship!
First, identify 3 qualities or characteristics that you appreciate about your partner.
Second, think about a time this week that your partner demonstrated quality number 1, write it down. Repeat for qualities 2 and 3.
Third, and this is a big one… express this appreciation to your partner!
I’m planning to integrate this practice into our weekly parental pow wow that we have on Sunday nights – it just feels like a really great way to start that check in – instead of launching into the agenda of reviewing the calendar and logistics of running our household, finances, and the fact that I need Dan to change the lightbulb above my dresser because it’s dark over there… but rather to say – hey, partner, I see you, I admire you, I appreciate you and I see what you’ve been doing for me, the kids, this relationship and this family!
So. Start a savoring ritual, an awe journal, and start fostering admiration in your relationship to increase your happiness and to make gratitude a part of your day-to-day habits and routines!
See Ep 10 on how to grow gratitude in your life in just 10 minutes a day – I share my personal gratitude practice and how it’s changed the way I see the world!