Mending Gratitude

"A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles." (anonymous)

More than just a gesture, gratitude involves a range of emotions that register in our bodies, producing changes at the neurological level that over time can lead to more satisfaction and contentment- happiness- in life. Studies in positive psychology have shown this to be true and over the last few years, a trend has emerged of people keeping gratitude journals as a way to record and savor the feelings they have whenever they focus their intention on the things, people, and situations they are most grateful for. Evoking these feelings often builds a reserve which researchers have measured and linked to biological and psychological changes that improve wellbeing over time. Of course, this isn't going to change those times when you'd rather be cynical or sarcastic, but in light of this new evidence, you might want to write those in your journal as one of the traits you're grateful for. Up to you...

Tai Chi Principle 16: Mutually Connect the Mind-Intent and Qi (shi liu: Yi qi xiang lian)

Qi cultivation works in much the same way. I took an online course from Master Stuart Alve Olson on the 22 Principles of Tai Chi recently. The sixteenth principle is about connecting the Mind-Intent with all the forms of Qi, meaning to use the will, or the imagination, to connect (he pointed out, "It doesn't say to direct, but to connect") with Qi as vitality (power), breath (rhythm, producing traquility), energy (moving jing and qi in the meridians), and what he called "vapor"- the mist like sensations that can occur in higher level practices which among other things produce healing heat in the tissues. I will revisit the Principles in later articles, but, in terms of gratitude practice, this is exactly what we do with Qigong, which is so closely linked with Taiji quan; we attempt to embody and circulate the state of grace that we get from simple thankfulness. And each seed sprouts more.

To see a listing of research completed on the positive effects of gratitude, see this article, written by Courtney Ackerman, MA for Positive Psychology: What is Gratitude and Why Is It So Important?


Here is a tiny lesson on how to use Qigong while you are acknowledge your grateful things. Though I'm talking about a gratitude journal in the video, I don't see any reason why you couldn't invoke feelings while you are creating art, dancing, recording your voice, or some other way of finding the flow. I just like the idea of journaling by hand because it, like Qigong, makes you slow your azz down.


6 Gratitude Building Techniques to Reset Your Mood

Most of us are constantly under pressure and on the go with our fast-paced lifestyles. It's only natural for us to occasionally feel worn out or even a bit down from time to time. The good news is that something as simple as refocusing attention from the aggravation of your challenges to acknowledging that there are still some things that you are grateful for in your life can boost your mood quite a bit.

Though research is still emerging, several studies show that practicing gratitude on a regular basis can raise your mood and boost your self-esteem, will power, long term health, and even your level of success in life. Do you know that spending as little as 5 minutes a day keeping a gratitude journal has a benefit?

Start your personal gratitude practice with some these suggestions for inspiration:

1. Keep a list of the things you’re grateful for. The next time that you feel angry, frustrated, or a bit depressed, make a list and literally count your blessings. Making a list can help you to stop obsessing over only the painful parts of your current situation.

Even during those times when you are not feeling grateful overall, which is okay-we all get there sometimes- there are still some things that can be savored, even if it is only that you got to wear your favorite shoes or you had a good hair day. It counts.

2. End the day on a positive note. Set the tone and focus for the rest of your day by taking a few moments before sleep to review the things that went well. Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, researched the effects of a simple task- his subjects were asked to name “Three things that went well” during the day before going to sleep. The exercise is called “Three Good Things”

Posing the question in this way helps you to challenge negative self-talk and can be a great way to focus on the positive aspects of your life, even if you'll still face challenges. Good questions to ask include: “What's something good that is happening right now,” “What opportunities await me tomorrow,” or “Who am I grateful for?” Don't judge- just answer.

3. Make a point to consciously notice good in something each day, or as often as you think about it, especially small, simple things such as a child's innocent laughter or the beauty found in nature. This is a type of mindfulness practice, keeping your mind from spiraling into anxiety over things that are not well defined for you, or worry over things that haven't happened.

4. Perform random acts of kindness. You can increase your own gratitude by being someone else's reason for thankfulness. Practice random acts of kindness by unexpectedly helping others without expecting something (even attention) in return. Observing yourself in an act of real kindness can challenge any thoughts of unworthiness that can sometimes crowd out evidence to the contrary. If nothing else, savor a time when someone was kind to you.

What may seem like a small act to you can be a very large act of generosity to someone who is in need. Look for opportunities each day to help someone else. The other person will be thankful for your generosity, and you’ll be grateful for the boost in your self-esteem and mood. Savor this experience for yourself by recalling it in as much detail as you can, including the way it made you feel- be a silent witness to your own ability to be the kindness you are seeking in the world.

5. Save notes of gratitude, instead of loose change, in a jar. Too busy to make gratitude lists or keep a gratitude journal? Try writing short notes about gratitude to yourself and keeping them in a jar!

Whenever you need an encouraging word, remove one of the notes and read it to instantly lift your mood!

As the end of the year draws to a close, look back over your gratitude notes to be reminded of all of the good things that happened to you and through you during the year.

6. Combine your gratitude practice with Qigong. Double the fun! This one is my personal favorite.

There are difficult times in everyone's life but practicing gratitude on a regular basis gives you the power and inspiration to endure as you overcome challenges.

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I am grateful for all y'all!



Journals for sale:

I'm in the blank journal business through Kindle Direct Publishing. If journaling is your thing, check out my books! Nothing fancy- I supply a (hopefully inspirational visual on the cover, and you supply all the actual good stuff!)

Journals, Sketchbooks and planners (Energy Eclectics Creative Tools- still me, just getting organized) (search)

Journals sketchbooks/ Cyndi Clark (Practice Planners and I Ching Reading Journals


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