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FreeTreat Activity 7: Express Gratitude

By Michelle May, M.D.

This is activity 7 from our FreeTreat stay-at-home retreat e-book (download free here). It is based on Chapter 8 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.)

We get more of what we focus on. When our thoughts are negative, we tend to see things through that negative filter. Likewise, when we focus on what we are grateful for, we are more aware of the wonderful things we have in our lives.

Since we get to choose what we’ll think about, the goal of the exercise is to cultivate gratitude and positive feelings in the present moment.

Gratitude Meditation

A powerful way to focus on gratitude is to think about everything you’re grateful for while walking, falling asleep, meditating, or simply sitting.Take Your Breath Away - Copy

  • Imagine that there is a ripple that moves from you outward.
  • Start by expressing gratitude for everything about yourself: your body, your mind, your heart, and  your spirit.
  • Next express gratitude for those around you: your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, and so on.
  • Then move on to other things you are grateful for: where you live, the weather, cultural events in your city. . . you get the idea.
  • Allow the ripple to continueto move outward in ever widening circles

Gratitude Journal

  • Choose a journal that you love. If you want,add photos, inspirational quotes, or drawings that remind you of meaningful events and people in your life, or images that inspire happiness and contentment.
  • Carve out several minutes each day to write down at least threethings you are grateful for in your life. Remember that you are choosing to focus on positive things in your life, no matter how small.
  • Write about anything you want and be as specific as you can. For example, instead of writing “I am grateful for my children,” you could write “I am grateful for my children who remind me to see things as if for the first time.”
  • If you are having difficulty coming up with something to be grateful for, start small, for example, “I can hear (see) the birds outside my window.”
  • As thoughts of unpleasant circumstances arise, make an effort to find the silver lining. For example, you could write, “I am upset that my daughter is leaving for college, and I am grateful that I have more time to nourish and explore some of my passions and hobbies,” or “I am sad that relationship did not work, and I am grateful it has helped me to see what I want more clearly in my next partner.”

Reflect on experience

  • As you complete the gratitude exercises do a body-mind- heart scan. What sensations do you feel throughout your body?
  • How does spending time to reflect on your blessings affect your relationship with yourself and loved ones?
  • What sittuations or experiences can you reframe by incorporating the practice of gratitude into your daily life?

Hopefully by trying the FreeTreat stay-at-home retreat activities, you’ve realized that you don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to nourish your body, mind, and heart. Caring for yourself allows you to recharge your battery and focus on your needs. Just remember, you’re worth it!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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