One way to cultivate appreciation is to PRACTICE GRATITUDE as soon as you wake up in the morning. This simple practice is actually quite powerful, and it only takes about 30 seconds.
1. Set an intention that you are going to practice gratitude tomorrow morning.
2. As soon as you wake up, take a moment to feel your skin touching the sheets or bedclothes. Feel the support of the mattress under you, and feel your breathing.
3. Right now, what are you grateful for? What could you be grateful for? Let your heart and mind generate ideas.
4. Name at least three things that you are grateful for. For example: “Thank you for the restful sleep.” “Thank you for ____.” “Thank you for ____.” You might prefer phrases like: “I appreciate ____.” or “I’m grateful for ____.” Say the words aloud, or silently.
There, with just a few phrases, you have turned your mind toward the good in your life. And even more importantly, you have chosen your first thoughts of the day. This has deep implications! It means that you can choose your thoughts at any time.
To multiply the positive effects of this practice, see what else there is to be grateful for throughout the day. All it takes is a moment.
• Feel into your physical health. The heartbeat alone is an absolute miracle! Thank your heart for its tireless work.
• Feel into your relationships. Feel the love and support, the humor and communication, the sincerity and suffering. Be totally present with those you interact with. Say “thank you,” and find some way to show that you really see them.
• When you eat, pause before taking in a morsel of food. What is this? Where did it come from? Where is it going? Thank the Earth, those who tend it, and your digestion.
• Look around your home and marvel at all the objects in it. Virtually anything that you hold in your hand reflects all of human history and the entire planet. Everything turns out to be connected to everything else. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Then, last thing at night, after turning off the light, lie back and take a few moments to recall 3 things that you experienced today, for which you feel gratitude and appreciation. “Thank you for ____, thank you for ____, thank you for ____.”
If you make a habit of this gratitude practice and do it every morning, every night, and randomly during the day, it will transform your life.
© 2019 Patrick D. Mitchell, Tokyo Stress Reduction