Come, Take a Gratitude Walk with Usby Kinga Lewandowska
You can never go too far with gratitude, it’s impossible to overdo it (unless you express it every five seconds and annoy your friends, wink). As it works in mysterious ways, it has the power to grant our wishes, make our dreams come true, completely transform our outlook on reality, and open our eyes to the abundance of possibilities. Gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving.
The more we incorporate it into our daily lives, the better results we will obtain. Any activity can be tied to your gratitude practice to enhance it, journaling being the most popular option, yet today we’re here to talk about an even more active approach –– movement. Or, taking a gratitude walk, to be exact.
When you catch yourself listing the same set of things in your journal, it’s a clear sign that a tweak in your routine is in order. Go, get inspired, let yourself experience a change of scenery for a while. All your senses will sharpen, your perspective will be refreshed, your body and mind healthier, and your gratitude deepened. There are no drawbacks to a gratitude walk. Put on your shoes and let’s go.
"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking." – Friedrich Nietzsche
A Bit of Fresh Air
It might seem obvious but, please, leave the house. We know you feel excited about your brand new treadmill, yet unless it’s raining, snowing, or hailing –– step outside. When we close the door behind us and leave the coziness of our home, it snaps us out of the lazy familiarity with the same four walls we use for nearly everything else (especially if you also work from home).
Any time is the best time for a gratitude walk. In the morning, it will help you set the tone for the day ahead. At lunchtime, it will provide a necessary break and a boost in productivity. As an end-of-day ritual, it will serve as an opportunity to reflect on anything amazing that happened throughout the day, it will wrap up your office hours and begin your nighttime routine. Alternatively, consider going thrice a day.
Research shows that nature has healing powers, both when it comes to physical and mental health. Therefore, we would strongly recommend visiting your local forest or park to maximize the benefits of this kind of gratitude practice. Since green is a calming color, it’s only fitting to add as much of it as possible to your meditation in motion.
"Walking is man's best medicine." – Hippocrates
The Science behind Walking In Gratitude
Considering that walking and gratitude display spectacular health benefits each in their own right, imagine what they can do if they join forces.
First of all, and we think you should stand up for this one, sitting is killing you. Motionlessness for 6 or more hours a day increases your likelihood of death within 15 years by 40%. We sit much longer during the day than we sleep at night, and our sedentary lifestyle is a slippery slope into cardiovascular disease. That alone is motivation enough to get off the couch, but there’s more.
Walking reduces stress and improves our mood, treating the symptoms of depression particularly well. Moreover, research shows that strolling three times a week for 40 minutes increases brain connectivity, supports cognitive performance, and helps combat the effects of aging.
As for physical wellbeing, walking improves cardiorespiratory and bone health, decreases blood pressure, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, promotes weight loss, improves cholesterol levels, and increases our longevity. It appears that our bodies and our minds can walk themselves back to health.
The benefits of gratitude are equally abundant. It reduces stress, toxic emotions, and depression, increases optimism, happiness, and life satisfaction, enhances empathy, and fortifies our self-esteem and mental resilience. It also combats physical pain, boosts immunity, and improves our sleep. Well, what we feel grateful for in this moment is––gratitude.
“Reflect upon your present blessings ― of which every man has many ― not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ― Charles Dickens
Into the Unknown
Where are we going, you ask? To be honest, wherever you like. As we said, there are significant benefits of reconnecting with nature, but pick a place you want to be. The middle of a huge city with interesting architecture? Why not. A quiet village in the middle of nowhere with spectacular, breathtaking scenery? Count us in. Familiar paths or exciting new routes, wherever you feel blissful will serve as a gratitude sanctuary. Hike the hills, venture into the forest, dip your toes in the sand on the beach, allow the peacefulness of the lake and the currents of the river to calm your mind, , or walk the bustling streets of the capital. Follow your bliss.
Meditation and Multitasking
Make your gratitude walk a journey through senses. That means disconnecting to reconnect. Forget your phone (except for music and a gratitude app –– these are always wonderful companions). Social media and checking the news can wait. This is your chunk of time to experience the power of the present moment in all its glory. Stop looking at your watch, or, if you have a limited time slot, set an alarm so you can let go of control and enjoy the freedom of the here and now. Minutes like to leak through the holes of your inattention. Catch them, embrace them, make this moment entirely yours.
Engaging all your senses will help you temporarily stop time from slipping away. The more attention you pay to everything you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste, the fuller, richer, and more colorful the present becomes. Slow down, it’s a walk after all, not a sprint. Open your eyes wider, attune your ears, breathe in all the scents, taste the air, and brush your skin against your surroundings (kind reminder: tree-hugging is a thing). Create an intimate bond with the world. Gratitude equals connection.
"The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk. But divert your attention by the objects surrounding you." – Thomas Jefferson
Accessorize and Visualize
We encourage you to take your primary instrument for practicing gratitude with you on your walk. For most of us, that probably means our journals, but anything works. Anytime you feel that spark, that overwhelming sense of beauty, joy, or purpose, jot it down. Immortalizing your gratitude, inspiration, reflections, and affirmations in the exact moment of awe will deepen, strengthen, and preserve that positive experience within you for much longer.
Once you feel thankful for what you have, it’s time to up the game. Graduate to feeling gratitude for things yet to happen, for everything pure and good that is on its way to you. All you strive for and everything you aspire to be is already yours. It has lived within your heart for some time, now will it, or should we say walk it, into existence. One foot in front of the other, allow gratitude to walk by your side, shoulder to shoulder. It will tell you stories, teach you patience, and open doors for you you never realized existed.
"If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress." – Barack Obama
One Step at a Time
Moving in gratitude means physically taking your body and mind into well-being. A gratitude walk can be a gratitude hike, jog, yoga session, or dance. The magic of gratitude in motion will wake you up from sleepwalking through life. Test it out once first. Then twice a week. Most likely, you’ll get as hooked as us, and who knows, maybe one day we will meet in a park or on one of the street corners. We’ll exchange smiles, tip our hats to each other, and we will know –– gratitude is a reliable friend.