Practicing Gratitude

female-journaling

I’m super excited to be interviewed next week on the Gratitude Café Radio Show with Sue Lundquist (1150AM KKNW on Tuesday, November 15th at 8:00am). Tune in and listen! I’ll be giving away a copy of my book! Gratitude was a big focus of my cancer healing journey and I’m excited to talk with Sue about it.

In my book, WTF?! I Have Cancer?, I write about how helpful it was for me to journal about gratitude. Both spiritual communications I had from the Universe during my healing journey were in reference to gratitude. With the first one, I heard an answer in my head to the question, “What does my body need to heal?” that I posed during a meditation. The answer I heard was “Pure acceptance”. I didn’t know what that meant and through journaling began to realize that accepting things that I didn’t like leads to forgiveness which leads to gratitude.

I decided to focus on forgiveness and gratitude, taking up a practice of writing daily about what I was grateful for. This practice is amazing and I highly recommend it, even if just for a few days to get you out of a funk. I don’t do it daily now, but do still use it to bring me back to center when I need it, realigning myself with what is really important in life.

We tend to get bogged down in the daily grind and get stuck on the negative events rather than the happy times. Did you know that our human make up is actually wired to focus on the negative things that happen during our lives and to not dwell for long on the positives? Have you noticed how you replay the upsetting events over and over in your mind but the happy times are fleeting? This is called “the negative bias.” Studies done by John Cacioppo, PhD, then at Ohio State University, now at the University of Chicago, show the brain reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. There is a greater surge in electrical activity. He figures this most likely evolved for a good reason—our very survival depended on our ability to keep us out of harm’s way.

But research has also well documented how stress has a negative effect on our immune system by actually diminishing the white blood cell response to viral infected cells as well as to cancer cells. So it’s very good for your health to focus on the positive and have a positive mental attitude. A great pathway to the positive aspects of your life is by focusing on gratitude.

Here are 3 easy practices to get gratitude more present in your life:

1. Create a gratitude journal.
Write three things you are grateful for in your journal each night before you go to sleep. This practice has also been shown to help you have a better night’s sleep!

2. Create a gratitude jar.
I got this idea from the author Elizabeth Gilbert. At the beginning of the year, she creates a Gratitude Jar. Throughout the year, she writes down positive things that happen on scraps of paper and puts them in the jar. At the end of the year, she dumps them out and reads them, reflecting on all the happy events that happened throughout the year. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

3. Create a dinner time practice.
I’ve heard various versions of this family dinner practice. Growing up, my family did this during Thanksgiving dinner, where we went around the table and said something we are grateful for. But why limit it to Thanksgiving? Why not weekly at Sunday dinner, for example? It could be what you are grateful for, sharing a personal win from the week, or going around the table giving each family member a compliment. All of these are wonderful ways to build harmony, love and bonding in the family.

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite gratitude practice is!

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