One Simple Mindfulness Technique to Help You Live in the Present: Gratitude

Mindfulness. We hear the word everywhere these days. Physical Therapists recommend it.  Psychologists recommend it. Places of worship recommend it. It must be important. It must be helpful. But how does one achieve it?

Breakdown: In its simplest form, mindfulness is tuning in to thoughts and feelings one experiences in his/her immediate environment. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways.

Today’s focus is on one simple mindfulness technique to help you live in the present: Gratitude. Using the tool of gratitude takes some practice. Here are two examples of ways to incorporate it into your day.

Beginner Version:

  1.     Obvious Gratitude List

Upon waking, rather than checking your phone, try thinking of 3 things you are grateful for.  In the beginning, this may be difficult. Let it be okay to list very basic things, such as vision, the ability to walk, etc. With perseverance, it will get easier, and become a positive spiral. 

Advanced Version:

  1.     Less Obvious Gratitude List

Physically write the list on paper to refer back to throughout the day.

Sometimes during the day, things happen that are out of your control. Things you wish weren’t happening. Things that are hard to accept. Then what? As counter-intuitive as it may sound, some find that expressing gratitude can lead to acceptance. For example, you experience a roof leak which causes damage to the entire floor of your master bedroom on December 26th. After expressing your disappointment and extreme frustration about what a colossal time-consuming inconvenience you now face, try expressing gratitude. Really. You might say something such as, “I am grateful for this opportunity for increased patience and flexibility.” It may sound ridiculous, but this technique completely changes the brain at the cellular level. Part of the reason it works is because it brings the mind into acceptance with what is. Prior to restating your situation in the form of gratitude, you were mentally resisting your situation. Your breathing was probably shallow, and your heart rate was likely a little elevated. We all know those are not good physiological states to be in.

Next time you want to practice a little mindfulness, consider gratitude; either the Obvious or the Less Obvious type! With practice, the written version will bring even better results.

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Works cited:

Lisa Brooks and Marie D. Jones. “Mindfulness: A How-To Guide for Everyone”

Melody Beattie. “Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps”

Sally Bartlett, ©2021


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