If you’ve been spending a bit of time around here, you’ll know I’m a big cheerleader of mindfulness. And while there are loads of incredible benefits to building a daily mindfulness meditation practice, I am also a huge believer in finding creative ways to be more present in our day to day existence. Being present makes life worthwhile. I am always interested to hear from different experts and mindfulness teachers to explore the myriad of ways we can bring this into our life more and more.
So today I am super excited to have Gabrielle Treanor who is an Ambassador for Happiness (what an awesome title right?!) share some of her insights about the relationship between gratitude and mindfulness. Gabrielle is all about inspiring people to live happy, through her course and intentional (super cute) stationery.
I hope you enjoy it!
To practise gratitude, practise mindfulness | Gabrielle Treanor
I am passionate about the power of gratitude. Since I’ve been practising gratitude daily I have become a happier person. It’s not that I’ve had some incredibly huge, life-changing event to be thankful for. I’ve simply learned to increase my awareness of the small but significant moments in my day within which I can find joy.
The reason gratitude is so powerful, and why I’m such an advocate of it, is because it brings in other techniques that are proven to reduce stress levels, build resilience, and create more room for joy in your life. And with a gratitude mindset we are more prone to feel our lives have purpose, to take better care of our bodies and minds, to value our connections with others, and to want to contribute positively to the world – all of which are proven to increase our happiness and wellbeing.
Gratitude creates happiness. It’s that simple.
To feel and express gratitude we need to be more mindful in our daily lives. How can we write in our journals about the good things if we can barely remember what happened in our day because we whizzed through it on autopilot?
By making the effort to be mindful, to bring an awareness to our routine, to be present rather than going over what happened in the past or jumping ahead to what could happen in the future, we pay attention to what’s happening right now in our day. And it’s with this attention that we can notice the little gems that make up our gratitude practice.
A few years ago I would regularly walk along streets staring at the pavement, thinking and mulling things over. I may not have been thinking negatively, but I was living in my head and only conscious enough of my surroundings to not walk into other pedestrians or get knocked down when crossing the road.
Since practising mindfulness I spend much less time in my head because I’m paying attention to the world around me. I look at shop window displays, at interesting architecture, at trees coming into bloom, I even smile at other people and they smile back! Opening your eyes to the world you inhabit helps you to see things you’d miss otherwise.
By being aware of what’s going on around me I might notice a rainbow in the sky after the rain, see strangers’ acts of kindness to each other, avoid stepping in a giant puddle and spot a sale on in my favourite shop! In the space of one short walk that takes only a few minutes of the day, I could have plenty of examples of good stuff to write about in my gratitude journal. Apply this mindfulness to the rest of my day and the potential for recognising moments to be thankful for is enormous. And with it the potential for happiness is exponential.
Along with mindfulness, savouring can have a significant impact on how you experience your day, and the gratitude you feel. By savouring a moment we give it a deeper meaning and embed it more firmly in our memory bank.
For example, I love how my dog snuggles up to me when I’m sitting on the couch at home. I notice when she does it and I’m aware of how I like her pressed against my legs. However, when I make the effort to not only be mindful of her presence but to really absorb how warm and soft she is, how her paws flicker as she dreams and her nose twitches as she snores, I can feel a little light of joy within me. I recognise that in that moment I’m happy. By savouring this ordinary, everyday occurrence not only am I feeling positive emotions in that instance, I’m also embedding it in my memory, and later I can recall how grateful I feel for that moment and include it in my day’s gratitudes.
Through practising mindfulness and savouring the joyful times, we develop and strengthen our gratitude practice. And the more gratitude we feel, the happier we can be and the more joy we can share. So you see, gratitude is a marvellous, uplifting, far-reaching, powerful thing.
Gabrielle Treanor is a writer, designer, and avid researcher and practitioner on the subject of happiness. She creates e-courses to empower you to live the happier life of your choosing. Gabrielle’s latest course, A Thankful Heart – creating a happiness habit with gratitude practice is open to join now and class begins 16 May: check it out here. You can find out more about Gabrielle’s inspiration, ideas and actions to empower you to live happy your way, and get access to the wealth of resources in the Nook of Inspiration, here.