Today we are talking about gratitude, or specifically, showing gratitude.
The dictionary definition of gratitude is: The quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
We're probably all clear about what gratitude is? Within certain circles over the last few years, there's been a lot of talk of gratitude practices. In general, these tend to be where you write down either in a journal or elsewhere, a few things each day that you're grateful for each day.
This practice has shown to be extremely powerful for various reasons. Although you don't have to write it down. You can still show gratitude and be grateful in your mind and in your thoughts. But the practice of showing gratitude is what I'm talking about today. Physically write down the statements that we are grateful for.
An embarrassing story
It was about seven or eight years ago.
Back then, I used to suffer a lot with mental health issues and also addiction, and my life was always very up and down. It must have been on one of these particular bad days when I'd reached out to a friend of mine, Jamie. He suggested that I could try practising gratitude. I'd never heard of it then, obviously I'd heard the word gratitude, but I'd never heard of the practice. I asked him to explain it to me, and he said you just have to think of three things every day that you're grateful for. He told me that he had been practising and it had really improved the quality of his life in general.
I'm ashamed to say this, I said that I didn't actually have anything to be grateful for. Jamie, quite rightly so, put me very firmly in my place and told me that I had a lot to be grateful for. The fact that I could walk, the fact that I had a roof over my head, that I had food on my table that had a beautiful family.
Of course, he was right. But back then, I used to feel sorry for myself and couldn't always see the good things in my life, which was a part of the mental health problems and addiction. Anyway, even back then I was humiliated and by how I'd responded.
I started to practice daily. Sure enough, I felt much better just from being grateful for things in my life and writing them down. I used to write them down in a journal. And I managed to do it for a couple of weeks until I started to feel really good. That was the pattern with me back then, I would never stick to anything.
Over the past few years, gratitude has exploded. Everyone's talking about it. Over the years I have practised it on and off but found that I could never practice consistently, I'd always forget to keep up with it.
There are multiple studies around now showing the benefits of showing gratitude. And let's just remind ourselves, this is nothing complicated. It's not hard work. It's not anything we can't understand. It's simply being grateful for what we already have in our lives and showing gratitude.
After doing a lot of research I thought I'd really like to get back into practising gratitude every day. Still, I've done it multiple times before and they always seem to drift off. How can I hold myself accountable?
I started a Facebook group. I invited my sister, my daughter, and about ten friends. I didn't even really explain to them what the group was about. I just said, look, I want to practice gratitude every day, and I feel like the group will hold me accountable and if not it's at least just space for me to be able to write in. And you're 'all welcome to join in too.
What I didn't foresee was that the people who I'd added to the group would also added other women. So I was posting my daily gratitude and so were other women. I didn't know these women so it wasn't just a group of my friends and me anymore, it was this much bigger group of friends of friends. It was surprisingly enjoyable, and it was eye-opening.
Some of the things that people post are actually really personal but it doesn't ever feel risky because it's such a supportive, friendly and openminded group. If women post when they're struggling, they always get a lot of support from other members.
Immediately even from the beginning, I noticed that friendships were being formed. Not by people who were connected in any way, people from all over the world, it was just lovely to see. So now the group has I think about 145 members, it's steadily grown from week to week.
Not everybody posts within the group and I wondered why people wanted to join and then not post?
My friend in Indonesia told me: I don't really post, but if I'm feeling anxious I'll go into the group, read a couple of the comments and it always makes me feel better. Other people have told me the same. So it seems we can benefit even from just looking at what other people are grateful for?
A personal highlight was when my daughter posted. My daughter is a long-time sufferer of my escapades. I always like to include her and I still hope she'll come to a yoga class with me one day, but she's not normally interested in anything like this and that's absolutely fair enough.
But one day I got an alert that she'd posted and I was just absolutely gobsmacked. She'd been reading all the posts, and she enjoys reading what everybody else has posted, and it makes her feel good.
The group has been very humbling. Some of the things that women post in the group illuminate the challenges they're facing. When we realise some of the hardships that people have to deal with yet can still manage to get on with their life and post in a group and share it's very inspiring.
Practising gratitude without a doubt, makes me feel better. I already feel pretty good, but it elevates my mood daily. Everything just seems a lot more stable, a lot more grounded, it's hard to explain.
Comments from group members
Kemi - London.
I did know about the power of gratitude as I've read articles and even books about it. There was one book that advised to do a 30-day gratitude exercise, but I never quite got round to doing it. When you started the group, it came just at the right time, and I felt like this is something I could really get into right now. And since I've joined the group, I've posted religiously every day. It's seriously been life-changing. My days are just better. I always post in the morning, and my day starts off on the right tone.
I really look forward to posting every morning. It gives me a nice feeling thinking about what I'm grateful for, and then I spend the day in that states of gratitude. Then I look forward to posting and even more about my appreciation, and it becomes an accumulative effect. The days get better and better. It's like taking medication that piles up in your system.
Being grateful is attracting more of everything into my life that I'm already grateful for. My vibrational frequency is different. I'm also repelling situations that are not serving me anymore or people that I'm just not aligned with anymore. They're all falling by the wayside.
I don't think I'd journal so religiously if it were just me. Something about the group is making me stick to posting daily, daily conscious gratitude has changed my life and I really like reading what the other women have posted.
I have practised gratitude in a journal before, but I'm not great at keeping up with it. I might not post on every day, but I am more mindful of gratitude throughout my day. Since joining this little online community, I do try to check in on the page every day even if I don't post on it myself.
I can be isolated a lot of the time, and this group is a refuge of gentle gratitude and positivity without the hollowness of gratitude memes. Connection is definitely important with this type of work.
In February 2018I joined a closed group on Facebook for February and part of it involved being encouraged to share our daily gratitude list with the group online. That group and that practice really improved my outlook and feeling of wellbeing and sense of connection to other women at a time in my life.
I knew this group could only be another wonderful experience, and it has been. The things we have in common and the things we value and appreciate can so easily be taken for granted. Getting an insight into other folks lives through that act of appreciation helps me feel more connected to other women.
It also reminds me of all the things I have in my life worth acknowledging, praising and demonstrating my appreciation for. Tears as I'm writing this as it's been a hectic yet wonderful couple of months. This group is one I've looked at if I've been struggling or feeling bad to help lift my spirits. It aid's in refocusing my attention on what really matters.
Jayne - Hebden Bridge
Before I joined the group it gave me a kind of niggle in my belly, which my ego explained as: Is just another' Portland, Oregon Yogi, vegan fake loving group? I'll do it for a while just to show support, but then I'll leave.
But I think my deeper conscience knew it was something I needed. I am grateful for having the sense of commitment to show up and post gratitude, and this is a great tool for being true to yourself.
I honestly think it's changing my brain cells. Rewiring the brain to be more effortlessly positive and not to get sucked into the vortex of social media and negative thinking and ruminating.
I come from an incredibly toxic family. Since joining the group, it's put the patterns of the relationships I have with different family members into perspective. Instead of ruining into the usual patterns that end up being negative for everyone involved, I'm learning to take pause, read the situation and wait. With time I realize how to deal with these situations from my gut, all I end up feeling good with the way I've dealt with things rather than regretful.
The group feels really rarely safe. There are no trolls. There's no one I know who I might end up feeling judged by, even if they don't openly judge me.
I also enjoy the support I can give to total strangers and the common sharing of problems and overcoming problems.
Women gathering together is really missing from our society and even though it's online, the gratitude for the gratitude group feels like a return of that. The group is full of women who are all from different places, different backgrounds and different ages who are being so open about themselves.
There are women who have left toxic relationships, women who are recovering from drug or alcohol misuse, women who are ashamed of something, women who are super ill and can't get out of bad.
It gives you an immediate sense of how precious and fleeting life is, how capable we all are to make changes, and it heightens the gratitude aspect, because unfortunately often there is someone struggling much worse than me.
There are many things I can say on the group that I wouldn't say anywhere else, and that helps me feel more comfortable to be properly honest in life. This gives me greater resilience to say no to things I don't want to do.
Practicing gratitude in the group has honed my ability to just feel safe and happy and calm with the littlest things.
Jayne makes a very interesting point about the space for women and communities. There's a lot of empty space where women's communities used to be. I'm a life coach and many of the issues my clients face revolve around not having a big social circle that they can rely on and connect with.
Luana - Vietnam
I enjoy following the group, and I've now got an app that is a gratitude journal. aI decided to keep my notes in there so I can keep them all together, but the group inspired me to do that. Since I started practising. Gratitude has made me appreciate every little moment I've learned to notice all the small things on a typical day that are actually very fortunate.
I look at everything with gratitude. I had a motorbike accident about a month ago with my friend. Thankfully it wasn't too serious. I only hurt my knee, but practising gratitude allowed me to be grateful for the accident. Not grateful for the accident as such, I felt grateful for only having a minor injury. I genuinely felt that.
So what do you think? Have we inspired you to start a gratitude practice?
Gratitude is really effective for helping us to manage our experiences and emotions and put things into perspective. I hope we've managed to illustrate just how powerful practising gratitude can be for our everyday life.
And as I mentioned before about women's communities, I think this is a really important aspect of the group. The group is a really safe space for women. It's a space for us. To talk about what we want, how we feel and what we're grateful for. Yeah, we might sometimes talk about our partners or our family or our struggles. Still, essentially the group is about us, and I just think that's so valuable.
I'm really proud of the group, and I'm really glad that I started it I had absolutely no idea of how much positivity it was going to bring into people's lives and just how great it was going to be, which I think is a lesson for us all. If you'd like to join the group please click here.
Acting on intuition
Sometimes we can be thinking about doing something, and for whatever reason, we don't. Something hold's us back, and we're not really sure why. It usually comes down to some sort of fear, that we're not good enough, or we don't want to be seen, or we don't want to stand in a certain space, or we're very careful about what we want people to think about us. This shows us that if you do follow your gut and follow your intuition then great things can happen.
Next week's podcast is on energy depletion. Everybody is so tired.
I'm tired, all my female friends are tired. And this has been a pattern that's been going on for years. So let's take a look at why.
I can already reveal that there are multiple reasons why women are so tired. Tune in to find out why.
Hello friends. I am Hannah Anstee, Women's Coach & Mentor. I warmly welcome you to The Future of 40, a space for independent, open-minded women who are looking for more. Namaste