Have you ever been to Café Gratitude? There are a few in Southern California and one in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s a delicious, plant‐based restaurant founded with the purpose of practicing gratitude of the Self, body and food through everything they do, lovingly.
When you get there, you think, “This place is super ‘meta’” or “’woo woo.’” The dishes have names like “Honoring,” “Transformed,” and “Warm‐Hearted,” and when the staff delivers your food, they tell you that you are now honored, transformed or warm-‐hearted. The water carafes say things like “Happy” and “Inspired.” There are colorful tapestries on the walls and patterned seat cushions and benches. The lighting is dim.
After awhile, something starts to happen. You become comfortable in the environment. Your mind stops worrying, ruminating over tomorrow’s plans or things you shouldn’t have said yesterday. You feel the vibe of the place, and you get into it.
Unknowingly, you’re practicing gratitude. Or at least your senses are. When you speak your order aloud (“Extraordinary”), you expect it in yourself. When you subconsciously read “Happy” on the water carafe, you feel it. And the longer you remain in that calming environment, your mind shuts up.
Practicing gratitude forces you to remember the abundance in your life – two arms and two legs, check; a roof over your head, check; a friend who loves you, check; a computer to read this blog post on, check. You forget about the things you don’t have, the things you covet. Your mind stops telling you you need more and your worries diminish, little by little. You feel content in the current moment.
Instead of feeling a constant wave of discomfort, you get closer to a constant wave of calm.
It’s not so hard to practice gratitude. There are a couple of ways I go back and forth between to practice gratitude daily and neither takes longer than 5 or 10 minutes. But they continuously remind me that I am incredibly lucky to have everything that I do, and I’m content in the moment.
1. Keep a gratitude journal. In the morning after I wake up, before or after my morning meditation, I sit down with a paper and pen and quickly jot down all of the things I am grateful for that day. The entry can be identical to or radically different from the previous entry. It doesn’t matter. It is a physical manifestation of counting my blessings. This doesn’t even need to be done in the morning. It can be done any time of the day.
2. Think of every possible thing I’m grateful for before I open my eyes to greet the day. This one is a bit easier because it eliminates the obstacle of finding a pen and paper, though, as a writer, my thoughts are less easily interrupted when they flow through an inkwell. I often use a few gratitude journal entries past to remind me of things I might be forgetting. Remembering the things I’m thankful for first thing in the morning always ensures that I get out of bed with a smile, and that’s pretty hard to beat (especially on Mondays!).
3. Say a little prayer. I use the term prayer loosely here, but when I find myself presented with a gift, such as a delicious breakfast, engaging conversation with someone I love or simply a stroke of good luck, I take a moment to appreciate it by whispering a word of thanks. It helps me connect with my many blessings in real time and learn to appreciate the source of those wonderful things.
4. Random acts of kindness. I like to recognize how much I have by giving back to others. It makes me feel good to help others feel good, and not only does it provide me with a deeper connection to the good energy surrounding me, I believe random acts of kindness help to create the good energy around me – plus, they really bring on the warm fuzzy feeling.
5. Appreciate beautiful moments. When a moment strikes me as beautiful or pleasant somehow, I try to stop and revel in it. I allow myself to truly enjoy the feeling it’s bringing me and appreciate even the smallest positives that the world has to offer. Practicing gratitude keeps us grounded. It calms our material instincts from today’s “more, more, more!” society and it reminds us that we have the chance to live, to be happy who we are right here, right now.
What do you think of these gratitude tips? Do you have any practices to add?
Related: 5 Ways to Journal Through Pain
Photo: Lauren Rushing via Flickr