On November 24th this year, millions of people across the world will dedicate their day to giving thanks, eating everything in sight, and getting up early the next day to shop the best offers they can find (oh, hey Miss Patisserie Black Friday sales...). But why do we practise gratitude?
Amidst the tragedy of colonisation, Thanksgiving marks a time of peace. When the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit, successfully negotiated a peace treaty with the Plymouth settlers, the allies came together for a whopping three day feast with no weapons, war or conflict – but with an opportunity to express gratitude for what they had.
And Thanksgiving isn’t the only cultural practice that celebrates the art of giving thanks. Ancient Ayurvedic and Hindu traditions practise kritajna (Sanskrit for gratitude); in Buddhism it is seen as the tool to cultivate patience, which is one of the ten perfections of Mahayana Buddhism (ksanti paramita); and Stoic principles depend on gratitude – with Marcus Aurelius instructing us all to remember ‘what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love’ every single morning.
There’s a reason people across the world for thousands of years have been so bothered about saying thank you. Studies, history and experience has proven that practising gratitude boosts happiness, reduces stress and builds resilience when times get tough. It eases jealousy and can help prevent against shiny-new-object syndrome (‘wouldn’t life be better if…’) and that agonizing grass-is-greener mentality (when your social media feed feels like fifty slaps in the face from fitfluencers).
If emotional health isn’t enough to tempt you (and if that’s true, then it’s probably time to unfollow some of those fitfluencers, but we’ll talk about that another day), practising gratitude actually improves physical health too. It’s been shown to bring better sleep, clearer skin (erm, count me in) and better digestion! What’s more – if you’re determined to manifest your dream life for 2023 (much success, no stress and lots of happiness à la Destiny’s Child) - the best way to establish the perfect state of abundance necessary for successful witchy ways is through – you guessed it – GRATITUDE.
At a time when life is feeling a little, ahem, challenging, and with New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, we can’t think of a better time to build a little gratitude into our lives. So how do you do it? We’ve put together some options to help you on your path to saying thank you.
THE BUSY ONE
Are you the sort of person whose diary is already full till summer 23?We’ve got you covered. Incorporating super quick, daily gratitude practices is actually one of the best ways to reduce stress because like all things – it’s the consistency that’s key.
- Everyday, ideally either as soon as you wake up or just before you go to sleep, write down a list of ten things you’re grateful for. These can be as simple as buttery toast and coffee or as important as your friendships and the roof above your head.
- We recommend having a special place to keep your gratitude lists so you have a little physical embodiment of how beautiful your life really is – like this gorgeous one from Papier. And if you want to maximise the power of this special book of abundance, use it for manifesting too! Write down ten things you’re grateful for, then ten things you would like to invite in and watch your life BLOOM.
- If you really can’t see yourself realistically setting time aside to do this, don’t lose hope! Make a WhatsApp group with a couple of like-minded pals and type out ten things each day on your way to work. You can even voice note your list as you’re legging it to the bus stop and be sure to reduce the stress of your commute (N.B. gratitude cannot stop you from missing the bus... but it can stop you being too bothered about it!). You’ll love the WhatsApp group so much we can guarantee within no time at all, one of the points on your list will be ‘THIS GROUP!’ followed by a multitude of cry-face emojis. You’re welcome.
THE INTENSE ONE
If extra is your middle name and you’re ready to go full gratitude (no, thank YOU) then look no further than our all-out guide to getting real grateful.
- Set your space. You can start by smudging sage but remember that sage cleanses rather than invites – so use it to get rid of any leftover negativity before you bring in the positivity.
- Get comfy. If you still have your coat on and your mind is racing around whether or not you sounded grumpy in the last email of the day, it will be far harder to find that place of peace. Jump in the shower – this is always good after you’ve burnt sage in case any of those neggy vibes are clinging on for dear life – and switch off. We couldn’t recommend our very own De-Stress Shower Steamer more highly for this EXACT moment; say goodbye to the mundanities of your day and hello to everything you’ve ever dreamed of (no biggy).
- Light a candle. The transformational energy that fire symbolises is ideal for accelerating a state of change. Yellow and orange candles are particularly good as they help to ignite your solar plexus and sacral chakras (which are all about confidence, joy and pleasure – so fab for creating a state of abundance!) but any will do the trick. Check out our favourite from Boy Smells if you fancy investing in the perfect gratitude candle.
- Place your crystals in a circle around you so you are quite literally SURROUNDED by good vibes. Any crystals that open those solar plexus and sacral chakras – so citrine, red jasper, amber and tiger’s eye – are perfect for this. However, gratitude is a personal practice so anything that brings you joy, whether that’s a diamond obsidian or a cotton friendship bracelet, will help with this circle of abundance – just try to go for natural objects to keep the vibrations high.
- Meditate for true focus. This can be as simple as counting your breaths until you get to ten or inhaling for the count of four, holding for the count of four, exhaling for the count of six, and repeating five times. If you fancy a meditation that goes a little deeper, you can find a gorgeous range of visualisations or guided affirmations through Headspace or Youtubers like Yoga with Kassandra.
- Write that list! If you’ve followed the above steps, we can guarantee you’ll already be feeling heavenly so now taking the extra step to sit back and really consider the beautiful things about your day will feel euphoric. Suddenly Mondays aren’t so bad anymore, right?
THE GRUMPY ONE
Though we hate to admit it, sometimes there is no candle or crystal that can distract from a racing mind. But even in these moments, there’s still a place for gratitude. In fact, it’s probably in the darkest, door slamming, social media deleting moments you’ll benefit from it the most.
- Start by writing an UNGRATEFUL list. When we try to repress or run away from our grumpiness, it’s guaranteed to overwhelm us even more. So instead, indulge in it. Lean into your bad mood and write a list of everything you’re annoyed at (and if this list includes people, please learn from every 90s teen film and don’t leave it somewhere it can be found...).
- Now, alongside this list, find something you are grateful for in each situation. For example, if your ungrateful list reads ‘feeling overworked,’ this might become ‘grateful there are so many opportunities right now and even though it’s hard, I’m handling it.’
- If you want to take it even further and you’re in the mood for some positive action, you can make a third list of things you can do to counteract the stressor. Trust us, that will feel impossible when you’re in the middle of writing the ungrateful list (“This is the worst thing in the world and there is literally no way it could get better and no I’m not being dramatic, Mum”) but once you’ve found something to say thank you for, this will feel much easier. Therefore, ‘feeling overworked’ goes to ‘grateful for opportunities’ which in turn goes to ‘make a to-do list of things that need handling today, tomorrow, and things I can leave till next week’
- Oh, and if your grumpiness is as a result of heartbreak and you’re still agonising over an ex/ghost/gaslighter, write a list of all the things you are grateful for from your time with them. We know, we know, we hate them – but it’s impossible to move on from someone when you’re still feeling that rage. So dig deep and come up with even five things you’re grateful for from the experience and you’ll finally be ready to make like Ariana and say “thank you, next.”