I’ve had a gratitude practice for a number of years now and I know the positive effects it has on my wellbeing. I’ve written about my gratitude practice on this site, however, I was curious about the results of practicing gratitude for 30 days straight. Can I see a noticeable difference in how a gratitude experiment can affect how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing in a span of a month?
Before I undertook this 30 day gratitude experiment, my gratitude practice fell to the back burner for a few months. I had been doing a lot traveling and I had been feeling uninspired and disconnected. I was going through the motion of existing and doing without any depth or purpose. A lot of my grounding practices had gone to the wayside.
Then one day I was in Oaxaca City, Mexico, and I was feeling particularly low, when an inspired idea pierced the veil of my humdrum mood. The idea was for an article – this article that you’re now reading – on what would happen if I practice gratitude with intention for 30 days straight?
I felt resistance but was willing to enact the experiment and observe the internal and external effects of the gratitude practice.
30 Day Gratitude Challenge Process
Here’s what the process looked like:
- Every morning I wrote in my journal what I was grateful for.
- I didn’t force anything, I tried to write down at least one thing that I was thankful for.
- Each night before I went to sleep, I thought of one thing that happened that day that I was grateful for. Sometimes I just said “thank you” full stop.
Other Ways I Practiced Gratitude
- Say thank you – I went out of my way, but not a forcing or faking, to express my genuine gratitude to others. For example, if the service or food at a restaurant was great, I made sure to let them know my appreciation. Or when a friend sent me an article that was inspiring, I let them know how the article helped me. Or I expressed my appreciation to people and pointed out the ways in which they have impacted me positively.
- Random acts of kindness – I looked for opportunities to express my gratitude through kindness. For example, I paid for someone’s coffee or meal; I opened a door for someone; I offered to take a picture of a family; I offered rides, etc.
- Grace before meals – I tried to express my gratitude for each meal.
Results of a 30 Day Gratitude Experiment
Feeling States Improved
I Felt Grounded
One of the effects I noticed as a result of the gratitude practice was that I felt more grounded in the present moment. I ruminated less. I didn’t think so much on what would happen in the future, nor did I get entrenched in the past with feelings of regret and guilt.
I Felt Lighter
I didn’t feel the heaviness and seriousness of the world. I felt lighter and more free probably because of what I noted in the above – I wasn’t in my thoughts as much and I worried far less.
I Felt Reconnected to Spirit
This was quite noticeable because I felt disconnected prior to that. I use Spirit to refer to something that is greater than me. Some would refer to this as the higher Self, the Universe, the Divine, Source or God.
I felt centred and aligned, and started to come back to what felt right and true within me.
I Felt Flow
I think the alignment to Spirit opened up the possibility of flow. There was less efforting, forcing and resisting, and more surrender and acceptance.
I Felt the Willingness to Let Go and Forgive
What was really interesting was observing the things that no longer served me came to the surface of my awareness for the purpose of letting them go.
I think this was happening because my feeling state was improving, perhaps even vibrating at a higher level, so that the attachments and feeling states of guilt, shame, anger and regret, which have a lower frequency, no longer had a vibrational match.
Noticeable External Effects
Since starting the 30 day gratitude practice experiment, I experienced more synchronicities. Here are examples:
- I decided that I wanted to take Spanish lessons with a teacher rather than through an app. A day later, I went to a cafe and sat beside a Spanish teacher. I ended up hiring her and I currently take lessons from her via Zoom as I travel around.
- I wanted to go to a reservation-only sushi bar in Oaxaca City. I didn’t want to go by myself (I couldn’t find anyone to go with) so I resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t go. Then later that day I ‘randomly’ watched a Youtube video about this woman eating by herself in a packed sushi restaurant. I took that as a sign, so I called to make a reservation within the next 3 days before my departure. The lady who took my call said that they were all booked up except for a spot for one person that same night, so I went. The experience at the restaurant was incredible – from the food to the chef to the people I met. It wasn’t lost on me that if I had gone with a friend we wouldn’t have been able to go.
- One morning I was deciding where to go and what to do that day – go see a waterfall or go to a coffee plantation. When I checked in with myself, I felt called to go to the waterfall, so the coffee plantation would have to wait. On the way back from seeing the waterfall, which was magical, I stopped at a cafe because it looked cute and I wanted to use the washroom. As I was drinking my coffee at the cafe’s balcony which had a magnificent view of lush green plants, I realized that I was looking at the cafe’s coffee plantation!
Transmutation of Relationships
I noticed some relationships were getting transmuted. I mentioned above that I was processing a lot – doing forgiveness work, letting go, releasing, and receiving insights and lessons into events and relationships. So on the heels of this work, some relationships no longer held me captive. It was as if my soul contract with certain individuals came to a close or are being transformed because the learning goal was accomplished.
On the flip side, other relationships were and are being strengthened and new ones are blooming.
The transformation of relationships didn’t reveal itself to me until the latter part of the 30 day experiment because I was doing a lot of processing in the earlier part. But I did start to notice small shifts in my relationships within the first two weeks.
At the time I didn’t understand fully what was happening, but I started to see the true colours of certain people in my life. I felt grateful for the lessons I learned through them, however, I realized that having them in my life no longer served me.
And what was interesting was that it wasn’t a conscious decision to sever the relationships, instead it was more like the relationships fell away or I wasn’t pulled to spend time with them any longer.
Unfolding of Purpose
Since a young age, I’ve been a seeker, asking the deeper meaning of life and what my purpose is. I believe that my main purpose is to learn, evolve and remember the truth of what I am.
And the truth is not the societal and familial conditioning, nor are they the limiting beliefs, nor is it the concept of Marina. When all of these fall away, the truth is I am one with the Divine. The ultimate purpose is to remember this.
There is also work on this earth that wants to be done through me and it is to serve others. It can take many forms, it is through writing, it is through sharing my story, it is through listening and holding space.
I have multiple projects on the go, and the direction has changed as a result of the gratitude experiment. I started to ask myself these questions:
- What is the purpose?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it addressing a need?
Now there is a focus on how I can be of service to others through these projects, instead of being driven primarily by monetary goals.
I’ve been experiencing more abundance since I started the gratitude experiment. There is abundance in the material sense. Since the purpose of my projects shifted – where the focus is to help others and address a need – there was a positive financial correlation that I observed. I’ve also been on the receiving end of beautiful gifts, kind words, love and compassion.
But I feel what’s more important is the increased feeling of abundance. Like I need not worry about anything – that I’m divinely guided and supported. There is trust in where I am and where I’m being led to. And that I don’t need to figure out how, just lean into what makes my heart expand, and the details will be taken care of.
- Positive feeling states, general wellbeing
- Stronger connection with Spirit
- Improved relationships
- Clarity of purpose
Within a month of practicing gratitude, I observed that I had more positive emotions, and my wellbeing was generally better. There are studies that confirm positive effects of wellbeing intervention such as gratitude and kindness: here, here and here.
The Gratitude Effect
Interestingly I noticed events and experiences in the world were generally positive. This confirms that the world and my interactions in it reflect my state of mind, that my thoughts create my reality.
The way that I perceive the world when I’m sad is going to be different than if I’m feeling happy. When my emotion is negative or positive I will look for proof in the world to validate what I’m feeling and thinking.
So practicing gratitude elevated my mood because my perception focused on the silver lining. This then created a ripple effect or perhaps it created a powerful cycle, I call it the Gratitude Effect:
The Gratitude Effect = being in a state of appreciation leads to feeling more positive. The higher positive state affects how I perceive the world. The more positively I see the world and myself, the more opportunities I have to be grateful.
So is it a surprise that doing a gratitude practice can change how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing?
What is your personal experience of practicing gratitude? If you haven’t done this practice, I challenge you to practice gratitude for 30 days, and observe the changes. I would love for you to share your results in the comments.
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of ACIM, mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.