BOTH our intuition and the science tell us that noticing all of the blessings in our lives can help us be happier. But what is the connection between mindfulness and gratitude? In some ways, we can think of mindfulness and gratitude as related practices that go hand in hand.
For example, when we use our mindfulness skills throughout the day, we are more present and tuned in to our experiences. This gives us the opportunity to really notice opportunities for gratitude that we might have otherwise missed. For example, if we consciously tune into our senses, we can discover a particularly beautiful sunset while driving home from work, or how soft and trusting a child's hands feel in ours.
Interestingly, when we set aside time at the beginning or the end of the day to write in a gratitude journal, or simply reflect on our blessings, we start to pay more attention throughout the day for people, places, and things to add to the list. Just like keeping a food journal makes us more aware of what we eat, keeping a gratitude journal makes us more aware of what we have to be thankful for. And being more aware is exactly what being mindful is about.
Like anything else, gratitude takes practice and effort. Today, I feel especially thankful for a spontaneous conversation I had with my daughter in the car, where she shared with me some challenges she had been experiencing at school. I am thankful for the opportunity to write, to share ideas and thoughts and words and create larger conversations. I am thankful that, as I write this, Friday is around the corner, and there will be time for rest.
If you would like to read more about gratitude, we loved this New York Times article on gratitude, and why it is important to cultivate year round.