Challenge #5 Gratitude Practice

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” Aristotle

Chances are you’ve come across quotes like the one from Aristotle up above. They make us evaluate our present habits in a split second, and think about the things we need to change. Even if you consider yourself to be ambitious, chances are you find it difficult to implement a series of new behaviors in your life. Common sense is not common action. Common knowledge is not common practice.

Why are 44% of doctors overweight?  You could bet they spent the majority of their youth buried behind a book telling them about the merits of exercise and diet. Repeat after me – reading a book on how to ride a bicycle does not qualify you for the Tour de France. Current research in self-control and self-regulation shows willpower to be a limited resource similar to a muscle that wears with use. Chronically stressed humans find it difficult to resist temptation ranging from the seemingly harmless like a latte, to a no holds barred shopping spree. What is one to do? Forgo the shopping spree and opt for the latte. Or is there another option? GRATITUDE

I like to make gratitude an intentional practice! There is growth in gratitude…Growth isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It isn’t always comfortable. And it doesn’t come with a cute bow tied on it. The reward of growth is priceless. Growth can lead to fulfilling relationships, great health, and authentic self-love and happiness. Resistance is the opposite of growth. It is the cause of depression, weakness, and unhappiness.

I talk a lot about designing your life! One simple addition could change your life….. All I am asking for is a few minutes of your morning to be mindful. I am calling these Presence Checks. The first one is about how you slept and your engagement level. My hope is that by acknowledging your morning story you can quickly identify whether your day is set up to be on the course or if a new story needs to be written. The second is your “WOD”. Your word of the day will profoundly inspire you to “choose” your course, your story. That’s right…. I said choose! What a gift. I use it to help with my selection process or just get inspired. Remember—I can choose my Word, I can choose the way I design my day- my life. The third and last presence check is Gratitude. I am encouraging you to cultivate a gratitude practice.

What is gratitude?

“Gratitude is the experience of counting one’s blessings.”

It is the feeling that evokes the word “Thank you.” It is the unexpected reward of a kind deed that is magically produced by your brain.  Why do scientists love gratitude?

A 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that “giving thanks” leads to not just an increased sense of well-being but also better sleep, willingness to accept change, and also help and lower symptoms of physical pain.
Delving deeper into the world of brain science, there’s another study that illustrates the immediate effectiveness of gratitude. As it turns out, gratitude could be the ultimate magic pill for ‘happiness’

In this last presence check I am asking that you give “thanks” for one intrinsic and one extrinsic gift.

One of the greatest gifts of being human is the ability to choose what to focus on. Regardless of what happens on the outside. If you’re perfectly calm and still on the inside, you can handle anything. Few of us have the emotional and mental balance of a monk. Zen-like skills notwithstanding, the best way you can begin your day is by counting your blessings.

No matter where you are and what your situation is, your focus can be shifted to something positive. Here’s how it looks in practice.

I am grateful for …

1. I’m grateful for the warm bed that I sleep in Extrinsic
2. I’m grateful for my body that is working in perfect harmony- Intrinsic

Here is a little secret to the practice: Try writing things you are grateful for that you may not yet have in your life. Let’s say you really want to be in a healthy relationship. Then write… I am grateful to be in an incredibly healthy relationship with the partner of my dreams. Just don’t forget to clearly define this man/woman, which is a whole different exercise.

Presence checks are the foundation for creating your days – your life. Check-in with yourself in the morning—How do you feel? How did you sleep? How do you want your day to go? Pick your WOD – live by it, share it, and then express gratitude for the amazing being you are! That’s it! A few minutes could change the way you live your life!

In gratitude for you –
Love and Joy
Xoxo ~ Leah

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