It’s in vogue to adopt a gratitude practice, and one has many options to choose.
Whether it’s writing down three bullet points in your 5 Minute Journal or finding gratitude through mindfulness, there’s no shortage of ways to feel grateful.
Over the years I’ve experimented with many methods, and while I love the immediate euphoria that the practice of mindfulness offers, I still struggle to find ways to make it last beyond the moment.
This morning I began my usual contemplation of 10 trivial things to consider, letting each thought settle for three breaths but stopped cold at number six, water.
I thought back to my travels through Siem Reap, Cambodia and how the villagers spent hours filtering iron out of their water just for a clean drink. Evoking that image, I felt overwhelmed with the abundance we experience in an industrialized world.
The muse continued to flow…
…I’m grateful for running water: On…Off. On…Off. On…Off…
Not wanting the moment to end, I just sat there, unable to populate the next thought.
Then it hit me.
Instead of jumping to the next thought like a frog on a Lilli pad, I contemplated and truly appreciated just this one thing.
Deep in this feeling now, minutes passing, longer than my standard regiment. As a result, an internal dialogue began: an anxious part of me itching to move on while the conscientious part overrides it.
Then it hit me. Why not do both?
So I stopped my session but made water my point of focus for the entire day. Each time I experienced the magic of clean running water, I’d stop and take a moment to be grateful. It’s depth not width. And in this way, I could take my practice with me.
Hence, the ‘Gratitude Point’ was born.
I noticed the benefits right away.
As I transitioned from meditation to breakfast, my focus still centered on water and just how often I used water: to make tea, to clean apples, to drink with lemon. I thought back to those villagers and became overwhelmed with empathy and joy.
Indeed, water remained my focal point throughout the day and I was shocked with the frequency that I used it and how I typically almost always took it for granted.
The results were incredible.
Instead of inundating myself with gratitude in the morning, only to let the buzz fade like coffee into the afternoon, I injected the same thought into my consciousness throughout the day: a consistent appreciation for water, the giver of life. The euphoria lasted right up until bedtime. While cleaning up, I was once again reminded of just how lucky I was to have such an abundance of water that I can literally splash it around without a worry.
Choosing a gratitude point or a singular object to focus my gratefulness throughout the day transformed my routine. Now I strive to lock in thoughts that seem trivial yet essential: water, food and electricity are some obvious choices (be warned: the latter gets a little overwhelming as a gratitude point), but there’s plenty of non-obvious ones as well, such as steel, cement, wood, heat, soap, towels, clothing…
One of the things I like the most about this gratitude practice is that it’s extremely simple to implement, so there’s likely to be a high adherence rate.
I’ve also found quite some joy in ‘gamifying’ this process, tallying the occurrences of use of my various gratitude points (get it, gratitude points), and comparing them in a spreadsheet (this comes from someone who has kept track of all his habits for nearly a decade).
Tallies or not, I believe you’ll find it fascinating how many opportunities you have to be grateful on a daily basis and for a seemingly infinite number of things.
I hope you find as much appreciation, humility, joy and fun in this practice as I have. If you found this useful, I would certainly be grateful if you shared it with someone who would benefit.