Gratitude Practice: The Gateway to Joy

In Eastern medical philosophies, the emotions have always been recognized as a source of physical illness.  It was understood that anger, grief, sadness, worry, and fear if not processed smoothly would create a knot, a stuck place in the energy body.  

These knots creates stagnation in the endless cascades of physical and chemical interactions that are needed for normal function.   It is the life force behind all this intricate functioning that is called Qi, and when Qi does not flow smoothly health begins to decline.   

What was an emotional issue will cause physical symptoms like insomnia, which leads to fatigue and an inability to think clearly.  All this creates more emotional turmoil as you struggle with feeling wired and tired.  And then there you are trying to be brilliant or a least capable when all you really want is a vacation.

 Given every day comes with emotional hurtles, it is wise to have at-home techniques and strategies to get you back to a happy place. 

 We all know the go to answers are:  1) take some deep breathes, 2) go for a walk, or 3) talk to friend.  If you’re lucky you could do all three at the same time.  Generally getting out of your head and into your body with some exercise helps. 

 But sometimes your Mind will get caught in negative loop and you are stuck with low-grade dissatisfaction.  When you need to break yourself out of the blues, even if they are perfectly justified.  It is time to start a Gratitude practice.

 A gratitude practice teaches you to take control of your mental state by focusing on the people and things for which you are GRATEFUL.  It trains you to always look for the positive, even in dire times.  It reminds you even when things suck they aren’t all bad.

 Practicing Gratitude

Set aside fifteen minutes early in the day to think about people and things for which you are grateful.  Take note of how you feel as you begin, are you grumpy, blue, irritated.  Do a body scan, head to toe, how does grumpy, blue, irritated feel in your body.

If you can’t think of anything to be Grateful for consider your eyes and the beautiful things they allow you to see.  Recall a beautiful sunset, a mountain view, the face of a loved one forever held in a precious moment.  If that loved one is no longer with you; you can be grateful you had that moment.  

If meditative reflection feels awkward to you, try writing a list.  Everyday you review the list you add more items to it. You can carry your list to a favorite vista and work on it there.  Somebody find it very hard to think of things to be grateful for.  This is the point.  We give alot of attention to what upsets us and not as much to what makes life vibrant and rich. 

Be grateful for that musician who wrote that song; you know the one that reminds of a happy time or makes you want to dance every time you hear it.  Think of the people, mother, brother, or friend, who always knows the right thing to say. Be grateful for your own good qualities as you recall good times or the times you talked your way out of trouble. Express your gratetude for anything or anyone that inspires you.

If life has you so down you can’t seem to express gratitude.  Start small think how grateful you are for pizza with extra cheese,  warm breezes on summer nights, or that you've got enough game to give this a try.  When your mind tries to drag you back down the miserable list of woes and shortcomings.  Take a deep breath and tell yourself this is a 15 minutes mental vacation.  Chances are after 15 minutes that list won't seem so significant. 


The choice to focus on gratitude has a positive soul affirming effect. Sincere appreciation for the people, moments or places that lift our hearts is the antidote for everything that pulls our spirits down.

The practice of Gratitude releases the emotional knots around the heart and allows the Qi to flow freely.  You can feel it, this movement of Qi in your chest.  We all can.  We feel it when we return to cherished place after a long absence or when we look upon immense beauty.  

As you finish your 15 minutes do another check in.  What is your emotional state; how do you feel.  If you were moved to tears do not judge yourself.  Tears of gratitude come when you experience Joy and it is unfamiliar.  Just keep practicing Gratitude and you will become as familiar with Joy as you are with any other emotion.