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The Big Question: Is it Enough to Just Be Grateful?

Three Tips to Putting Gratitude in Action 

Empty words won’t get you anywhere…

Gratitude is a hot-button topic in many circles. Your yoga teacher, mindfulness teacher, therapist, or life coach may consistently tell you to focus on what you are grateful for. It is used as a tool for manifestation and for mindset change, but what do you do with it?

In the ancient yogic texts, there is a lot of discussion about “action”. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with yoga poses, they didn’t even exist yet. Action is the opposite of inaction. The grammatically incorrect phrase I always use is “don’t do nothing”.

So, think about it like this: your therapist tells you that you need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to change your mindset and curb feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, traumatic experience, and on and on we go. Your Yoga teacher insists that if you are grateful, you can change your life.

But the thing we are missing here is gratitude won’t change your life! Recognizing what you are grateful for and doing something about it will! When you create those lists on paper or in your mind about what you are grateful for, take a step back and really look at how you are showing that.  “Put it out into the universe”, they say. But what are you really putting out there?

If you feel grateful for your friends but gossip about them behind their backs, what is that telling the universe? You hold hands and pray and give thanks for a bountiful meal but take no effort to share your prosperity with those who are suffering. You say you are grateful for your body, but when you look in the mirror your thoughts are cruel. Can you imagine the universe doing double take after double take?

I think the universe might be getting mixed messages.

So how do you cultivate a mindset of gratitude and actually use that toward positive action?

  1. Pick one thing and stick with it for a while.

If you are grateful for your body, spend the time working on what gratitude for your body means. Every time you say something unkind about yourself, notice it without judgment and shift it. Be aware of what you are ingesting, who you allow into your personal space, sleep patterns, and movement. Let that one thing be your focus for days, weeks, or even months. Imagine what could shift if you let your gratitude lead you toward change.

  1. Recognize your empty words.

This is not meant for you to be harsh on yourself. Everyone speaks without doing. But you don’t have to! You are grateful for your family, your career, and your home, but what have you done to show that? Are your words, thoughts, and actions in alignment? No? Again, there is no need to judge it. Notice it. And make small shifts accordingly.

  1. Start to think small picture.

Yes, small picture. If you stopped at this moment, I bet there are dozens and dozens of things you could be grateful for just in your immediate space. A hot cup of coffee, a warm sweater, four walls around you, etc. Pause and look around. Even if you are somewhere you don’t want to be, there are blessings all around you.

The goal is to start to notice. To go beyond the superficial aspects of words and lists. To really take a look at how your actions line up with how you feel. How could that change your body, your relationships, your work, your impact on the world, and your daily life?

So, if you have ever stopped to wonder why just being grateful hasn’t gotten you anywhere- look at what you do and not what you say. I bet there are lots of clues in there about how to best move forward.

About Jessica Proulx

Jessica Proulx is a dedicated Yoga and Meditation teacher with over 20 years of experience. As the Co-Founding Director of the Direct Path Institute, she passionately shares her expertise in Yoga, Meditation, and Eastern Philosophy. She has dedicated her study and career to working within the layers of Yoga Darshana and Samkhya philosophy and guiding students through the deeper practices of self-discovery. Jessica’s vast knowledge and teaching skills have made her a sought-after lead teacher on numerous Yoga and meditation teacher training programs. She has conducted transformative retreats in various locations, including the US, Central America, and Southeast Asia, and continues to lead training programs worldwide. With a focus on philosophy, Ayurveda, movement, meditation, trauma, and the nervous system, Jessica excels in group facilitation, public speaking, and guiding students on their individual paths of growth. For more information visit https://yourdirectpath.com/

By Jessica Proulx, Director of Direct Path Institute