FGK Mindful May: Attitude of Gratitude

by - 3:03 PM

For our first week of the FGK Mindful May challenge, we are focusing on gratitude.

I chose gratitude first in this series because it is one of the easiest and most accessible approaches to living mindfully. Most of our days are comprised of routine - we get sucked into our day to day responsibilities, errands, requirements and it becomes easy to lose our connection to ourselves.

We can see this when we become frustrated at that person in line in front of us at the store, snap at someone who cuts us off in traffic, or lash out at a loved one for no reason. We think, ugh, that's not me. I am not a hateful person...why did I lose my cool?

We also see this in comparing our lives to others - wanting what they have, feeling that we are not good enough. This is our ego driving us, and not our true self.

So how does gratitude play a role here?

Actions and Reactions

One of the best ways to begin cultivating a connection to our true selves is to be mindful in our interactions with others. We can do this by beginning to shift our perspective when faced with situations where we would normally react in a negative way. The easiest way to do this is through gratitude.

What do I mean by this?

Let's take the grocery store scenario. It's late in the day, you are in line and at the store waiting to pay for your food, just wanting to GET HOME. The person in front of you is taking forever - you totally picked the wrong line.

Stop. Pause. Take a deep breath - and think of three things to be thankful for about situation, ie...

- I am thankful I have a job that gives me enough money to afford these groceries tonight
- I appreciate the person who is working behind the counter serving me (and the person taking forever). They probably want to be home with their family right now too, but they will most likely be here late into the night.
- I am grateful for a few extra minutes alone with myself to reflect

Now, notice the change in your body, physically. You probably feel calmer. You may even be smiling. Go ahead and send some love out to the person in front of you, a wish that their day gets better too.

Attitude shift. Just by saying thanks.

Role of Ego

Gratitude can also be helpful when we allow our insecurities to drive us. This is the ego speaking from a place of fear - telling us we are not good enough. Thinking we need more to make us feel better. We "should' feel guilty/ashamed/bad about doing or not doing something.

Let's take this scenario which I discussed with a friend of mine recently... She was struggling with eating well (she eats very well), body image and being hard on herself. She asked what to do when someone brought cupcakes into work - "I want to eat one, but then I feel guilty enjoying it. I don't deserve to have one, I didn't even make it to the gym this week."

This was her ego talking. So I suggested this approach: Initial reaction - Gratitude.

Sign from House of Belonging on Etsy
Ok so the cupcakes are there. Immediate reaction - thank the person that brought them. Thank them personally, write an email, in your mind, whatever.

"Wow that was so nice and thoughtful of them to think of me today. And how thoughtful to lug these across town, probably in a cab, going out of their way into work today just for me.  I feel so loved."

As soon as you begin to do this more often, the ego will quiet. It won't even have a chance to say "You don't deserve it."

How to Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

Here are a few ways you can begin to cultivate your attitude of gratitude this week.

1. Every night this week, keep a gratitude journal.
This can be a physical journal, in the notepad on your phone, or just something you think about before you fall asleep. Think of three things you are thankful for - it can be as simple as the super comfortable pillow your head is lying on. Write them down, or recite them.

2. When dealing with a situation that brings fear/anxiety/stress, thank those involved. Notice if the fear dissipates.

3. If you catch yourself wanting to react to someone with attitude, pause - put yourself in their shoes, and then genuinely thank them. 

The more often we practice this attitude of being thankful, the more you will see it start to play out in your daily life. So give it a try for the next week - and see how you feel.

Check back in again next Monday for our next topic in #FGKMindfulMay! And if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

With gratitude,
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  1. Kat, I love your blog and Mindful May! High five!