Gratitude: A Shortcut to Mindfulness, Joy.

There's an abundance of content available to you and I that stress the importance of being mindful. I can attest to its strength; being mindful is a great weapon. It will make you more efficient in facing and conquering life's challenges. However, until I started practicing gratitude, I never fully embraced mindfulness.

Being mindful is a tall task. Life moves fast and I find myself either constantly planning my next step or dwelling on the past as if it has some hold on me. Mindfulness is a part of my life, but the focus it brings is fleeting. Gratitude makes me more mindful, more often, without the effort. Gratitude is a shortcut to happiness and can turn tedious tasks into good and repeatable habits.

I’m lucky enough to have two pets. One, a 12 year old Beagle, who is constantly smiling and requires little upkeep. The second, a heeler puppy, is a bundle of energy and accidents. The small amount of “me” time I had during my day was pissed away by this cute pup. I find I’m constantly walking or tending to both pets now, but I’ve used the time spent walking to practice gratitude (when I’m not bagging up poop).

When I started, I would name ten things that I’m grateful for during my morning and evening walks. Literally, I would count ten. It was hard to stick to ten. I soon would spend my entire walk thinking about what I am grateful for.

I normally cover the big picture items and people first: my fiance, family, friends, job, etc. However, I found myself becoming grateful for the things around me. I was grateful for the neighborhood I lived in, the clean(ish) air, the shoes on my feet. It woke me up to how much I have to be happy about and how little the past regrets or future stresses really mattered.

I became not only mindful, but joyful. Joyful over things that I didn’t need to work or pay for. Joyful for my life, the good and the bad; I was content and that’s a hugely undervalued feeling in my book.

Gratitude brings your life into focus and back down to earth. The perspective and unadulterated joy it brings is the quickest, cheapest and healthiest fix I’ve come across and will bring mindfulness with it.

Find a task in your life, something you do everyday. The task needs to be something where you can be on autopilot and focus your mind on gratitude. During the mindless task, push your brain to be grateful and reap the benefits. This isn't a habit that'll take long to develop and it has serious staying power. Try it out; it's an easy win for you and will take your mental edge to new heights.