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5 Gratitude Practices to Change Your Life(style)

Hello hello my friends!

Today I want to talk about our daily routines—the good, the bad, and the ugly (especially mine). More specifically, I want to talk about the habits we’ve adopted and the thoughts we experience FIRST thing in the morning that set the tone for the rest of our days. This idea came to me earlier this month when I was listening to Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly audiobook and she summed up the idea of living in scarcity for me in a way that REALLY resonated with my past self (and in a lot of ways my current self too); the version of me who wanted to be abundant, but had adopted a routine that was based in scarcity.

What do I mean by a routine based on scarcity? Brené describes this kind of routine as having feelings of "not enough-ness" from the moment you wake up. A daily flow that is centered around not having enough time, money, or energy to do things.

This looks like waking up beginning a series of thoughts like: "I didn’t get enough sleep, I wish I didn’t have to go to work, I don’t have enough time for breakfast, I don’t have time to work out, I don’t have any clothes to wear", which then sets the tone for the rest of the day. By lunch this transforms into a series of, “I don’t have time to grab lunch, I can’t afford to eat out today, I don't have time to start a new project, I don't have enough energy to talk to XYZ". Then, in the evening, many of us have focused on what we don’t have enough of ALL DAY, "Agh I have to sit in traffic, I’m too tired to meditate, I'm don't have enough energy to workout, I’ll look into starting that blog next week….”. These series of thoughts make us anxious and stressed at the end of the day because that is the energy we’ve allowed ourselves to live in. Then, instead of doing things at home that help us elevate our vibe, many of us choose to self-medicate with wine, food, TV, social media, gaming…. we live in a society that promotes escapism because we learn that we can’t fail at passive activities.

The Cycle of Scarcity, Stress, Escape, Repeat.

A daily routine centered around scarcity cultivates anxiety and exhaustion because we feel that we have to fix our "not enough-ness" with our schedules. We over-commit in order to feel like we have enough of SOMETHING, or that WE are enough because of our schedule, “I’m important… just look how busy I am… I never have enough time…”.

My passive activity of choice was to stay up really late reading, watching tv, or cleaning just to feel like I could control a single part of my day, or at the very least, try to create more time to feel good with my self-prescribed medication techniques. This was my daily routine for yearssss. I loved escapism; still do sometimes! When it was time for bed, I’d shame myself for all the “productive” things I didn’t get done that evening. The things I claimed I didn’t have TIME to get done…. then, I’d repeat this routine of scarcity all over again the next day: Go to bed exhausted already calculating how few hours I would get, waking up and wishing I had more sleep the night before, racing to beat the clock on my way to work, not having enough time to do things in the evening.… Looking back, my routine was comical, but I didn’t realize what I was doing. I was unhappy and I didn’t know why. This is the type of daily flow that points to a scarcity mindset that is focused on all the things we don’t have enough of, the things we lack. And, this was my routine for most of my life!

According to studies conducted by Brené, the happiest people on earth cultivate a routine that incorporates joy throughout their day, every day, so that it becomes a part of who they are. They make joy a habit and not some exercise we do every now and then. However, most of us have limiting beliefs about joy which make this a difficult routine to adopt. We have thoughts like, “Joy can’t last, when will the other shoe drop, I can’t enjoy this too much because it hurts to think about what would happen if this disappears forever”. Feeling joy can be a vulnerable feeling. Author Brené Brown even mentions a common phenomenon among parents: feeling afraid to enjoy their kids too much out of fear that something bad would happen to them. Wow.

Have you ever had scarce thoughts about spouse, friend, or family member? How often do we keep ourselves from experiencing joy because we think it is too good to be true? These thoughts allow our fears to manifest scarcity; Joy as a fleeting experience, not as a lifestyle. For this reason, most of us allow joy to come in moments, but it hasn't become a lifestyle.

Creating a Joyful Lifestyle

Thankfully, we can choose to vulnerably accept joy and allow ourselves to live abundant lives. How? By intentionally being grateful.

To start, we have to embrace the vulnerability of joy as a moment to practice gratitude for what is, instead of fear of what could be/what could happen. You can never know how something will turn out, and robbing this moment of joy will not prevent future tragedy. Certainty is the opposite of abundance.

According to Brené Brown, the difference between happiness and joy is that happiness relies on your external circumstances, whereas joy comes from within; Joy is cultivated by a consistent practice of gratitude. This lifelong practice is a great way to harness a joyful life, regardless of external circumstances. However, it is important to ensure it is integrated as a habit throughout our days and not just a journaling exercise to check off the list once a week.

Here are some gratitude suggestions and ideas to help you get started:

How can you intentionally make space for daily gratitude? What can you be grateful for when you first wake up? Can you find 5 small things every day to be grateful for? How often do you express gratitude outwardly? Not just a “crap let me think of 3 things really quick”, but instead, what beautiful things can you notice each day to become grateful for? Who can you show gratitude to, today? Maybe it’s your mail person, a coworker, the barista at your coffee shop. It really is an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE.

We’ve all met at least one really ungrateful person before. You know... the person who is never satisfied? Embarrasses you at restaurants? Think about how this person acts and how negative they are. Can you be the opposite of those people? Can you be the overly optimistic person that is thankful for your daily experiences? How might THAT shift in identity change your vibration?

Cultivating joy through a practice of gratitude is a great habit to form. Here is my list of 5 things you can do to help integrate gratitude into various parts of your day:

1. First Thought of the Day

Create joyful habits centered around abundance instead of a routine centered around scarcity by starting off your day right. What can you change about your morning schedule to help you live more joyfully? How can you incorporate gratitude into the first thoughts you have?

2. Look for Simple Details to be Grateful For

Find joy every day in the simple things and not just in paramount moments. Joy doesn’t have to come from a concert, wedding, or vacation. How can you cultivate this feeling regularly? Daily? What new things can you be grateful for every day? Is there a rock, flower, breeze, breath, person, song, billboard, or new coffee shop you can be grateful for?

3. Slow Down and Make Space

Slow down and step out of hyper productivity and perfection. You are enough without a busy schedule. What can you say no to in order to create more space for freedom, joy, and abundance? What can you intentionally make time for? Can you become more present? Be grateful for the gift of time you’re giving yourself.

4. Start a New Hobby or Passion

Allow more space for creativity and inspiration which coincide with joy. What fun and creative task have you always wanted to do that you’ve denied yourself because of lack of time? Glass blowing? Guitar lessons? Karate? Distilling? Incorporating a new hobby into your life can be a great way to cultivate abundance and joy. Gratitude through new and fun experiences.

5. Be Mindful

Lastly, be mindful. If you find yourself operating from a place of “not enough-ness”, stop, reset, and restart. Change your thought patterns and remind yourself of everything that you already have to be grateful for. Think about what you would have if you had to move somewhere completely new and start over. What bare minimum will you always have? Your creativity? Knowledge? Scrappiness? Family? Your mind? Ability to generate income? A steady partner? Your dog? Own that foundation and remember that the external shit doesn't matter when you will always have what does.

As you begin this process, remember to stop and change any negative habits or thoughts that will come up (and they will!).Developing a long-term practice of gratitude will take time to cultivate and master. In the meantime, find ways to create the feeling of joy and look internally for long-term happiness.

Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. I will catch y’all next Monday! Until then, go out there and manifest some miracles.


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