MIndfulness and Gratitude … Minutes Away From Happiness

Money, sex, pleasure … Nope. The key to happiness is something entirely different … something anyone can have and at any time.  It’s a tweak of mindset.

 Gratitude and mindfulness are pretty much the essentials to a healthy mental state, better eating habits, flourishing relationships with both yourself and others.

They are both practices that will no doubt help you live a more loving and happier life,

Gratitude is the practice of noticing and appreciating the positives in your world. Shifting the focus from what you don’t to what you DO have profoundly influences your mood, emotional state and physical health. Research in the field of positive psychology found that a daily gratitude practice can lead to increased concentration, enthusiasm, optimism, and satisfaction—not to mention improved sleep quality and a greater sense of connection to others

What’s preventing you? Too weird, unfamiliar,  spiritual.  Now is the time to start cultivating it into a habit. Take the time to notice and give thanks for all that NOURISHES—friends and family, health, community, and the food on our plates. Taking a mindfulness approach to eating, listening, conversing is as simple as being present. It doesn’t sound hard, but the amount of distractions that come in and out through your brain is endless. So it is a practice and something you must practice. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude allows you find  meaning and to fully enjoy.

1.    Slow down and be mindful

Slow down—I know easier said than done —and look up! We are all RACING around trying to get it all done within an unreasonable time constraint while we are all head down on our devices. We are missing EVERYTHING. It’s often the little things that end up being the most significant. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary takes attention and mindfulness. The sighs from your sleeping child; the wind in your hair; that first sip of hot coffee; the sound of laughter from afar. Let’s make the little moments sacred again. We do this by slowing down and looking up! It’s a habit, a hard one to break, but worth it ten fold.

2.  Slow down while you eat

For too many of us, multitasking and over scheduling turn our meals into a race against the clock. But rushing through a meal disconnects us from our food and brings on digestive discomforts. Eating should be a pleasurable, mindful experience, though often we do not treat it as such. Noshing on salted nuts in front of the computer at work, chewing on a protein bar en route to a meeting—sound familiar? Although it may not be possible for us to sit and slow down for every meal of the day, when we do have the opportunity, we can employ a few simple techniques that can bring more peace and enjoyment to our eating to nourish both body and soul. So often we eat mindlessly. We stuff food into our mouths while working on the computer, watching TV, or when we’re on the run. The pleasure of eating is in slowing down and fully experiencing all of the elements of food—sight, smell, touch—what does it look like? From colours, textures and smells, take some time to explore each during your next meal as if it’s the first time you are experiencing them and notice the difference.

3. Chew Your food. This may sound obvious, but the majority of us do not chew our food enough. We chew 3-5 times and swallow. We need to chew our food so much more than this because chewing actually ignites the digestion process. We need to chew our food over 30 times before we swallow. I know, sounds like a lot and it is, but this completely alters the way we experience eating, helps with digestion, almost eliminates digestion issues like bloating, gas and cramping and actually helps us eat less because we are satisfied faster. So just when you think you can not chew any more, continue. Talk about about staying present.

4. Tune out so you can tune in.

This is goes with the above number 1 and 2, and it is essential. Time to turn off the TV, cell phones, video games, and any other gadgets or toys that might distract so you can tune in with your food and those gathered around you. Make dinner a time that you focus on the meal in front of you and the people around you.

5.   Keep a gratitude journal

Writing down the things you are grateful for takes increases overall well-being significantly! 2-3x a week my daughter and I cozy up in her bed and think about our day. We write 5 things we are grateful for in that moment, and reflect on the entire day. I don’t know who loves it more, me or her.

6.   Shift your focus

Instead of viewing your world through a lens of all of the things you don’t have or are missing out on, try shifting the focus to what you do have and what is going well. Since starting the journal with my daughter I have seen this shift in her. It’s Brilliant.

7. Make it a practice together

At dinnertime, my little girls lead their “thank-you’s”—a little thank you poem with hand gestures and all. It’s been part of our dinnertime since they were able to sit at the table. It calms, sets the tone and encourages us all to share our day. Whether you have a whole crew around the dinner table, or a simple setting for one, make it a practice. It will become a ritual you learn to saviour.

If you want to feel happier and healthier regardless of the stress, chaos and noise in your life, start incorporating a small dose of gratitude and mindfulness into your daily habit. Remember, it does take time to cultivate. It is a practice. Set the tone daily to make it your intention to be more mindful and more grateful throughout your day. It all starts with SLOWING down.