Soaking in Gratitude
How often do you allow a positive experience to sit with you? Like, really sit inside your heart and mind? Sure, a funny moment will erupt into laughter and you may even giggle a time or two again about whatever was funny. What about a more subtle moment, like a smile from a co-worker or a compliment from a friend? We may smile back or say thank you, but do you soak it in? Most often, we get distracted so fast that the moment comes and is gone in the blink of an eye! We are usually not aware that we need to soak in gratitude that is expressed from others.
This concept has emerged from the science of positive psychology (complementary to traditional psychology). The ability to recognize, appreciate and deepen your awareness of positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. By doing this, you are creating a better coping mechanism to help minimize negative thoughts and cultivate a broader awareness of positive thoughts and feelings.
We often hear about gratitude, especially around Thanksgiving and while that is a wonderful thing – what about being on the receiving end? For many, being on the receiving end of an expression of gratitude can sometimes make you feel uncomfortable. You may be quick to dismiss someone’s grateful comments with a quick response of “no problem” or “I’m just doing my job.”
It can be helpful and emotionally healthy to give more attention to how you respond or receive gratitude. Pause for a moment (sit back, take a deep breath), think of the last time someone genuinely thanked you for how you helped them and savor how you feel. You may feel pride in how you supported another human being or how one of your strengths has contributed to a positive outcome.
Consider how soaking in and savoring the expression makes you feel about this person. Are you more aware of how they “see” your efforts and contributions? Can you acknowledge the steps they took to communicate with you in a meaningful way and share this with them? More importantly…can you look in the mirror and see yourself how they see you?
The next time someone expresses gratitude to you for something you’ve done, fight the urge to deflect the expression. Instead, soak it in! You will experience a heightened awareness of positive feelings. If you soak it in long enough and share what it means to you, it’s guaranteed to boost their positive emotions as well.
Gratitude Action Step
Try this practice technique to realize the benefits of soaking in gratitude as the receiver and for the expressor. Always remember these three reflection questions:
- How did it make you feel about yourself?
- How does it make you feel about this person?
- How and when will you share both of these savoring reflections with the expressor?
Feeling too vulnerable? Share this savoring practice with a close friend or family member and notice how you benefit.
Reading with Gratitude
As discussed, we know that receiving gratitude can often be harder than giving it. With practice and patience, you will begin to benefit from being on the receiving end. Better sleep, calmer, high self-esteem and all the mental and physical improvements that are possible – are all big benefits just from practicing and receiving gratitude. Many of us have had this drilled in us from various blogs, social media posts and in discussion. But what about reading with gratitude?
How does gratitude help us read more intently and also improve our ability to connect to the story? What about applying this to your own lives?
Attention to Details
As you carry on your gratitude practice, you will get bored of the same day-to-day thankful people and things. Yes, I know – you are grateful for your friends and family…I would hope we all are! We may (or may not) love our jobs and are grateful it is there to provide for us and our families. Some of us have pets who always make us smile at the end of a hard day. I get it, I am grateful for those things too. What about the details that encompass all of these things we are thankful for? When we start to notice the details of life – things start to become more vibrant, joyful and lively!
Details Do Matter
As a writer, noticing details is crucial in my line of work. It is how the reader will see what I envision while creating my story. As a reader, the details will help you just be present – tremendously. When you are reading a novel that you are engrossed in or even watching a movie – do you ever stop and notice the details? We might for a few seconds, but like mentioned above – do you soak it in? Maybe the characters in your book were dancing outside in winter and you notice how the writer described the snowflakes that began to fall all around then and sparkled. Don’t these details light everything up?
Details in Real Life
Write these details down or really sit with them. How do you feel? More alive? Fiction as a tendency to really ignite fire inside you with the right details! When the book is put down and real like resumes, this is when these details really matter – because you can now apply them to yourself! But how? Ignore the basics and look for the beauty.
- Look down at your husband’s hands when he holds yours. Do you notice the lines across his palm? A hand that has held yours for so long
- Your child’s messy hair when they come running to you and how that makes your laugh
- The flowers you put out of the front porch: colors, smells – rather than just being grateful for your home.
These are just a few examples of looking at the details versus the general things or people you see day-to-day. Slowing down to see these details takes commitment! In a world so busy, it can be hard but well worth it! Dive into that next novel and really take the time to “read between the lines” so-to-speak and capture those details.