Back at the beginning of the summer, I did a little round-up post about how I'm trying to make time to be more mindful in my everyday life with tiny little 10 minute check ins. You guys seemed to really like it, so I thought why not come back with a post on gratitude?

I've been thinking a lot, as I near the end of my twenties, about how my buying habits and every day life perpetuate a cycle of want-buy-gratify-want. It's tricky because a) consumerism is a well-established machine, b) I'm in the prime of my career and kind of feel like I work hard and want to treat myself and c) blogging; but one of the most effective and sensible ways I try to get myself out of the 'I want this!' mindset is by practising more gratitude for what I already have. Like mindfulness, gratitude is all about taking a step outside of the narrative in your head and recognising your own behaviour. Rather than quieting your mind, I find gratitude more of a course-corrector when I start heading down the same neural pathways that lead me to 'binge' on a shopping spree. Here are some of the things that work for me:

1) Write a diary - A lot of people say keeping a specific gratitude journal helps them, but I find even just collecting my thoughts on paper and reading them back can be a cleansing exercise from my brain, and stop me from making impulsive buying decisions. I like using a 'highlight of the day' or 'one good thing today' section for me to gather those moments that I'm appreciative of. The One Line A Day journal pictured above is really great for this!

2) Get outside - While the weather is still nice, there's something pretty special about going for a quick sunset stroll and really taking in your surroundings. Phone away, no distractions, just let yourself take in all of your surroundings and really be present. I like to breathe in, hold, and out again with the mantra 'All is well'.

3) Pay it forward - There's a reason everyone's so happy at Christmas. Yes, holidays and lots of food and booze, but also - nothing feels quite as good as giving to someone else. Try paying one meaningful compliment to someone at least once a day, or taking someone for a coffee and actively listening to what's going on with them without trying to meet them in conversation or better their bad day with your own worse one. Just truly being 'there' for someone else without strings can be an amazing way of pulling yourself out of your own mind and sharing appreciation.

4) Speak no evil - OK so, this one takes longer than 10 minutes, but - try challenging yourself to a day without gossip, or complaints, or criticism/cynicism. It's a LOT harder than it sounds and believe me, I'm guilty of all of the above, but there is something uplifting about eliminating negative rhetoric from your day to day - it's quite liberating.

5) Make a playlist for someone - Just because. There are a lot of 'just because' actions that show gratitude but I think there's something special about music, and its ability to say everything we've been wanting to. Spend ten minutes putting together something that will make someone special to you smile, and have a boogie in the process. Or better yet, have a dance to it together! With wine. Always wine.

How do you practice gratitude?

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