Awhile back I was in a coffee shop eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation between a man and woman who seemed to have just met.
The sixty-something man who looked very wise, asked, "What is the most important component of happiness?"
I held my breath. That has long been the million dollar question for many of us.
"Gratitude." He said gratitude.
Aha, I thought. Now I know the secret to life.
But seriously, I thought he had something there. I know that when I am thankful for something, I feel good and even happy for awhile. But then something comes along and pokes holes in my bubble of joy.
Many, many life coaches tout the benefit of keeping a gratitude journal and I often write about things in my own journal that I am thankful for. It is a good practice. It helps you focus on what you have instead of what you don't have.
Here is another easy way to capture the feel-good benefit of gratitude.
Take a gratitude walk...
Set aside 30-minutes for a walk outside. Early morning is good because the mood lifting benefits of the walk will stay with you throughout the day. A walk at sunset is pretty special, too. No excuses. Find a time that suits your schedule.
Approach your walk with a sense of adventure, curiosity and gratitude. Your intention is to discover new things or see old things in a new way. And to appreciate everything you notice.
Embrace all of the season's glory. Each season is unique in its own characteristics. Discover them. Fall is a wonderful time to walk outside. The autumn colors are breathtaking, the smells earthy and pungent, and the leaves crunchy under your feet. A simple walk through your neighborhood can be uplifting.
Start your walk by noticing your own physical strength. Be aware of your movements as your steps carry you forward. Notice your leg muscles as you walk, and your arms swinging in-synch to your steps. Set your own pace and thank your body for giving you the physical stamina to do this.
Along the way, look for things in nature that you find especially interesting. It could be as simple as a pretty red leaf on the ground, the showy cluster of asters in your neighbor's yard, or the tiny sparrow hopping around in the brush. Notice the tiny details, such as the delicate veins in the leaf, how the flower grows from its stem, or the color and pattern of the bird's crown feathers. The many details can be almost inconceivable once you look closely. You will start to feel a sense of wonder at the beautiful intricateness of what you are observing. Do it often and you will start to feel joy bubble up.
Notice the unexpected. Savoring surprises can elicit strong feelings of gratitude. A small mammal running across your path, sparkling raindrops clinging to a branch, the feeling of protection by a giant tree.
End your walk by contemplating your blessings. Think about what your life would be like without the things that bring you great joy. This will help you refocus your thoughts. You'll be more sensitive to all the good things in your life, feeling more joy, rather than focusing on all that seems not-so-good.
Try for a gratitude walk once per week. You will soon start to feel a wonderful sense of appreciation for all of the goodness in your life.
Please share your thoughts about this in the comment section. What are your feelings about gratitude? Do you have any special activities that seem to spawn appreciation and gratefulness?
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