I’d like to share a short excerpt today from my bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within‘ (see book page for more details):
When you make the conscious choice to look for the good, revel in the joy, engage in appreciation and find space for gratitude- just your very actions– will inspire others to do the same. They will see how you show up; they will feel your energy. They will want some of what you’ve got going on and they’ll start to shift in the same way.
So, a practice I’d like to introduce and share with you here is one of giving thanks. Expressing gratitude on a daily basis and feeling it.
I’m sure you’ve heard of gratitude before. Lately it’s become a very popular idea. With gratitude journals, morning gratitude exercises and lots of self-help gurus talking about the power of gratitude, expressing thanks has taken center stage.
In most cases, I choose to steer clear of the crowd, but in terms of gratitude- all of these people telling you to practice it- they are right. Often, what’s missing are two crucial caveats that I will cover with you right now.
- First off, gratitude is best practiced EVERYDAY. You must. As simple as brushing your teeth or going to the bathroom, you do these things every single day, right? Gratitude is the same thing. You can’t do it one day and expect for everything to change.
So you’ve got to practice gratitude on a daily basis. The more you can be thankful for, every single day, the more things to be thankful for will come.
- The other piece to this, which not many people talk about, is feeling it. It’s more than simply expressing the gratitude in words. I did this for awhile.
I saw the movie ‘The Secret’ and I was like, ‘Oh I get it’. I ‘understood’ the concept in theory. I could recite back to you what the Law of Attraction was saying. But did I live it? Initially, no.
It was a lot of parroting back what I read and heard, grasping it in my mind, but not in my heart. Stating the information instead of living the skill. As nurses we are sort of at risk here.
We can learn clinical skills, watching an instructor teach us what it is we are to do. We may even pass an exam, mentally grasping the information. But unless we actually do it, use it in our practice; are we living the new skill in our lives? Are we incorporating these skills into our work routines?
No one wanted to have this patient. During the day it wasn’t that bad because the medical nurse would come by and see him. But at night, when we were all alone, just two of us, it was always a fear that I’d have to perform this task.
I understood what I was supposed to do. I watched someone else do it. I read about it. I could tell you how to do it properly. I even knew what equipment to use and what safety precautions were needed. But to actually do it without embedding that experience into my life; I was terrified.
The same holds true with gratitude (well, maybe not the fear piece).
You can understand the concept; you can even say ‘I’m thankful for’ in words. But, unless you put meaning and feeling behind the actual prose; you won’t get the most bang for your buck.
Attaching a feeling to it is so much more powerful.
Emotions are powerful clues. In addition, emotions are attached to thoughts. Feelings get stored in our psyche.
It’s not ‘Oh, I remember when I got lost as a little girl’. It’s the feeling of being lost that you remember. The terror that your parents would never find you. The confusion that was overwhelming. The tears that gushed as you got more and more stressed out. You feel that memory; you don’t just ‘say’ it.
When you practice your daily gratitude, you must attach an emotion to it. Why does the person, place or thing that you are expressing gratitude for make you feel good? What feeling comes from that situation, event or idea that you are thankful for?
Instead of ‘I’m thankful for my family’ it’s ‘I’m thankful for my dogs because they make me feel silly, playful and full of cheer’. Then as you say it, feel those feelings.
I take it as far as saying my gratitude list while looking in the mirror. I smile at myself and really feel the joy coming from inside of my heart. It’s something I’ve committed to doing on a daily basis.
If you enjoyed this exercise on gratitude, check out ‘Nursing from Within‘ (click here) for more information and self-care practices that are easy and fun!
Why not give it a try? Let us know in the comments below what you’re grateful for. And go ahead and attach a feeling to it. I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading and enjoy the day.
About the Author: As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift Workshop, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.