Gratitude Rituals for Joy and Self Acceptance
Momming ain’t easy. Over the course of a day, let alone a week or a year, so many little accidents, arguments, moments of comparison and toddler tantrums can leave you feeling like you’re failing at this whole mama thing. And no matter how supportive your partner might be, we know the “silent work” of mothering means others don’t always appreciate just how hard you’re working every single day.
We all have moments we feel completely burnt out. Unfairly burdened but also ashamed we can’t “keep up.”
Our feelings of doubt and self judgement can deeply affect the way we feel about ourselves. We can’t expect our little ones to validate our mothering or remember to thank us for every snack or kind word. The more we can find validation and peace within ourselves, the happier we will be.
OK, we know. A gratitude practice sounds like just one more thing on your to-do list. Bear with us.
Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” may not come easily to us when we’re just struggling to get through the day, but the act of taking time to focus on things, moments and people that we’re grateful for is a powerful tool. Expressing gratitude is proven to relieve stress and promote joy and self acceptance.
And we’ve got tips to help you squeeze it in, even in your busy life.
Here are 3 of the rituals we use in our lives to cultivate a sense of gratitude and help us stay positive.
The Write Stuff
A gratitude journal is one of the easiest and most powerful tools, proven by research to improve mood and overall feelings of calm. Try keeping a journal beside your bed or in the living room so you can take a few minutes at the end of the day, or when you’ve got a few minutes to yourself, to jot down point form things that you’re thankful for in your life. If you start your day by journalling gratitude instead of checking Instagram, you’ll change your first impression of the day to a positive, proactive experience.
Try to find 3 things you’re grateful for each day, no matter how simple. It could be the opportunity to go for a walk with a friend, a quiet moment to sit and have some tea, a kind word from your partner, your good health — whatever brings you joy.
Don’t have a book nearby? That’s ok. Try saying them out loud to let your conscious mind hear them.
Sharing your experiences as a family can be a great way to model gratitude to your kids and make it a part of your daily life. Coming together around the dinner table each evening is the perfect opportunity — and it doesn’t have to be a religious experience.
Simple experiences are often the things for which we are most grateful, but we tend to downplay them when we see the highlight reel of another person’s Instagram or get swept up in the monotony of everyday life. A daily chat about everyday moments gives you and your littles a chance to re-focus on what matters. You can use prompts such as “What made you feel happy today? What made you feel good? What made you smile? What did you do that made someone else feel good/smile today?”
Saying grace extends beyond religious beliefs. It’s about taking a moment to reflect on what you have and receiving that with joy. It has also been proven that taking a few moments to share feelings of gratitude before eating helps you eat more slowly and mindfully, improving digestion and overall health. Bonus!
Hands on Approach
When we truly get caught up in our negative self talk or stress, it’s hard to get out of our own heads. Our thoughts can become fixated on the negative thoughts we have about ourselves or others. In a cycle, we think the same negative thoughts and often feel badly about our negativity. Then we start feeling negative again, and so on. And so on.
Sometimes, the physical body needs to step in and calm the mental/emotional body. Taking time to reconnect to your body is a great way to stop over-thinking and bring yourself back into the present moment.
Start by rubbing your hands together, creating a warmth between your palms and place your hands on a part of your body somewhere that you want to bring a sense of loving kindness to. Take a few moments to feel the warmth of your hands on your body and receive love and gratitude for your body.
Although these practices are simple, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement. Try not to be down on yourself if you miss a day of journaling or if you have a quick drive-thru dinner one busy weekday and don’t express gratitude.
It takes a concerted effort to shift our mindset to the positive but the benefits are profound!
Pairing an “attitude of gratitude” with a tangible act/practice like journaling or giving thanks before a meal causes a positive habit to develop, over time. Since habits form the foundation of our unconscious brains, we’ll begin to feel a shift in our thinking and mood.
Not only do we change the way we feel about ourselves but we develop empathy, acceptance and gratitude toward those around us. Meaning: gratitude actually makes the world a better place!
For further inspiration, read: Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown.