Find Your “G” Spot: Practice Gratitude

Family togetherness and gratitude hands are in Anjali Mudra Prayer Position cultivating aparigraha

Article At A Glance

Research shows that gratitude can activate the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, the “feel good” chemicals that promote feelings of peace and contentment, reduce anxiety, and enhance sleep patterns. It also shows that a gratitude practice provides those benefits despite challenges, difficulties, and disappointments. Here are three ways to practice gratitude for your own life.

LOL! This is not a post about sex. It’s about practicing gratitude. But gratitude is sexy and an essential part of positive relationships—so say the experts.

Gratitude is defined as being thankful and appreciative of something or someone. Finding an attitude of gratitude helps you live with a greater sense of well-being despite challenges, difficulties, and disappointments.

We can think of gratitude in both internal and external ways. These can be:

  • Good things and people in the world (external)
  • Our ability to recognize and affirm the good in the world (internal)
  • Gifts, help, luck, and life benefits received (external)
  • Our ability to appreciate life and what we’ve received (internal)
  • Relating to self and others compassionately in spite of challenges (internal and external)

What Are the Benefits of Practicing Gratitude?

The heart here as concept for gratitude.

Research shows that gratitude can activate the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, the “feel good” chemicals that promote feelings of peace and contentment, reduce anxiety, and enhance sleep patterns. It also shows that a gratitude practice provides those benefits in spite of challenges, difficulties, and disappointments. That’s good news!

How long do those benefits last? The answer is that it depends. Like exercising, healthy eating, and living a clutter-free lifestyle, developing a consistent gratitude practice can sustain and enhance the benefits. An attitude of gratitude helps us find a measure of contentment with who we are, what we have, and how we can live with more clarity and resilience.

An attitude of gratitude helps us remain centered and peaceful. It helps us not get too upset when daily glitches and messy life situations show up (and they will). Conversely, it helps us not get too excited when things go 100 percent the way we hoped (and we always hope they will). Finding the middle ground is not always easy, but practicing gratitude is one way to find it consciously and more often. Practicing gratitude is a choice and a skill that we can learn. If we choose to work with gratitude in our everyday lives, we’ll keep those “feel good” chemicals flowing.

To find your “G” spot, try the following suggestions that can be done anytime throughout the day. I practice all three.

3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

What am I grateful for? Handwritten question in an old notebook or journal with crab apples.

When we are dealing with illness, pain, or physical limitations, it can be hard to feel or experience an attitude of gratitude for our bodies. However, as long as we are alive, we can consciously experience gratitude for the act of breathing. Consciously coordinating breath and movement is a deep practice. Taking a breath in as we raise an arm or a leg can feel empowering. Exhaling while we lower an arm or leg can bring a restful release. We can be consciously grateful for each breath and movement accomplished. If some or all of the body cannot move, we can focus on moving the breath, feeling grateful for each inhalation and each exhalation.

Breathing happens whether we pay attention to it or not. When we point our awareness and attention toward the breath, we can use it to deepen an attitude of gratitude. Here is a powerful practice.

1. Gratitude Breath Practice

Woman doing breath and yoga practice in the morning at her home.

1. Bring yourself to a comfortable position, seated or lying down.

2.  Place your full attention on your breath.

3. Begin to notice the four parts of your breathing process:

  • Your inhalation
  • The slight pause before you exhale
  • Your exhalation
  • The slight pause before you inhale

4. Let the breath come and go naturally.

5. Silently say “thank you” on the inhalation and again on the exhalation.

6. Spend 3 to 5 minutes watching the four parts of your natural breathing process and consciously practice gratitude.

2. Affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements that help us reinforce helpful, productive states of mind and well-being. When repeated often, they help to encourage a positive outlook. You can think of affirmations as a gratitude exercise for the mind. Affirmations are short and stated in the present tense: “I am” instead of “I will.”

Here is one that cultivates gratitude:

“Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

This affirmation is often attributed to Sono, a female Zen master who lived about 150 years ago. I use it because it helps me feel grateful and content.

The heart as symbol and concept of practicing gratitude.

3. Gratitude Popcorn

This is one of my favorite daily practices. When I take a moment to tune in to my surroundings a few times during the day, no matter how busy I am, something that I can be grateful for almost always “pops” into my consciousness. Here are a few examples.

  • During the oppressive heat and humidity of summer, a cool breeze passes by to cool me down. I smile and whisper, “Thank you.”
  • As a recovering perfectionist with a long daily “to-do” list, my mind says, “Do it all!” When that happens, I feel anxiety creeping in. If I take a moment to tune into my body, I can hear it saying, “Edit! Edit! Edit!” If I follow through (I don’t always, but I’m a work in progress, as are we all), I will take skillful action and choose three items for the day. Anxiety eases. I smile and whisper, “Thank you.”
  • While watching the news, I see a story about someone struggling with a serious health condition. I reflect on my health, which is good despite aches, pains, moody blues, and minor chronic stuff. I smile and whisper, “Thank you.”

To get your own bag of gratitude popcorn, remember to tune in to your surroundings a few times a day. If you do, something you can be grateful for will “pop” into your consciousness. Then smile and whisper, “Thank you.”

Here is a quote that reminds me to practice being grateful:

“A contented heart is a calm sea in the midst of all storms.”

— Anonymous

Find your “G” spot and let an attitude of gratitude be your boat.

Reprinted with permission from
Beth Gibbs, MA, C-IAYT, Writer and Yoga Therapist

Beth Gibbs, MA, is a faculty member at the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. She holds a master’s degree in Yoga Therapy and Mind/Body Health from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She is the author of Soul Food, Life-Affirming Stories Served with Side Dishes and Just Desserts, Enlighten Up! Finding Clarity, Contentment, and Resilience in a Complicated World and Ogi Bogi, The Elephant Yogi, a therapeutic yoga book for children. Beth is an experienced workshop leader and public speaker. She blogs at

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