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5 Ways to Practice Being Grateful

It is spiritual wellness week – week 3 in the Live Well Kitsap 6 week online Transformation Event. We include a spiritual week as we know that many people have grown up without a spiritual orientation, or with a religion that did not hold a lot of meaning or purpose for them. We want to help you engage or reengage with your spiritual wellbeing.

We’ve created this week in the Transformation event to invite you to pause out of your busy life, reconnect with your creator (or whatever spiritual belief or practice you may have had that has fallen by the wayside of busyness) and perhaps even be curious about what spirituality- faith- or religion might offer for you.

Since having a spiritual practice can mean so many things to different people, we at Live Well Kitsap would like to hone in on one aspect of spirituality that is common in many spiritual practices, religions and sects. That is the attribute and practice of gratitude and contentment.

In the bible verses in Philippians 4:11-12 we read the following: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything let your requests be made known to God. Paul goes on to say … for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.

As a believer that is one main thing in my life I am grateful for. That I know that no matter what I, or the people I know and love- are going through, that ultimately He is in control of every circumstance. That gives me hope, joy and fuel to run on and I am grateful.

With that said, I don’t always “feel” grateful. Especially when some circumstances get really difficult. When I read the news and see how much of our world seems spiraling out of control- it’s hard to “feel” gratitude. On the days, or in the minutes when I’m feeling especially challenged, I remind myself to practice gratitude even when… especially when… I am not “feeling it.”

Here’s some ideas for you no matter what your spiritual beliefs are. Take what is useful, adapt what fits for you, and leave the rest.

1. Get a Gratitude Journal. This is one of the simplest, easiest ways to consistently practice gratitude. Write down, which requires thought, three things every morning and /or evening that you are grateful for. Think of the people in your life. The work you do. That you have a roof over your head, or food to eat. How much of the world population does not enjoy those very basics. Consider who else, what else. Consider the source of those blessings you do have.

2. Pray/ Meditate. Whether you choose to meditate on a bible verse or meditate on a mantra that holds significance for you, this is a way to practice what you believe. Additionally, it is also a benefit to your wellbeing to pause and realize there is something bigger than you. To experience your insignificance in that context is to put life into perspective. Your life matters as do your decisions. Pray and meditate on them. Include thankfulness in your prayers.

3. Read and Reflect. Whether you read the bible or some other book that holds meaning and significance for you, reading and reflecting is a way to digest and percolate on what you are reading and learning. Sometimes you may read something new, and other times your reading may serve as important reminders… take the time to reflect so it sinks in and takes root.

4. Allow your Beliefs to Influence Every Area of your Life. When we stop compartmentalizing our faith, beliefs, or religion into a place we go on Sundays, or certain activities we do, and embrace it as part of who we are, then we can begin to let our beliefs permeate all aspects of our life, health, relationships, and work. We can show up as grateful people radiating light and love rather than people who compartmentalize our faith and beliefs from all other aspects of ourselves.

5. Live in Belief and Gratitude and Share it. When you invite others into sharing about faith, spirituality or gratitude, you create opportunities to share and connect. Notice I did not say evangelize, coerce, correct or preach to… all of which tend to be off putting for most people. When you live a life of gratitude, it shows. When others notice, that creates opportunity to share. It does not mean that we are not honest about the difficult pieces- because at one time or another we all have those- it means we can share how our beliefs and our spirit of gratitude help us get through the rough patches.

Life can be full of grief, anxiety, mayhem and strife interspersed with moments of joy. In the challenges we all face in our personal lives; families, work life or business, in the community and in the world, it is easy to believe that we are alone and on our own.

It takes time to pause and reflect and find the good. It takes courage and wisdom to be intentional about finding the things in our lives to be thankful for. This year instead of waiting for one day of the year when we collectively celebrate that which we are thankful for, make practicing gratitude in the context of living from your faith/ beliefs what drives you.

You may just be amazed what this practice does for your life, health, mood, relationships, energy and so much more. Choose gratitude. Envelop yourself in it. And remember to give thanks to whom all blessings come.

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