2021… what a year it has been so far. With the run into the chaos of Christmas, it is easy to get caught up in what’s not important. With busyness and the silly season, sometimes the anxiety and stress creeps in. Practicing gratitude is a proven way to help reduce stress and anxiety, that’s why we thought it timely to catch up with gratitude expert Larissa Emara from I Am Happy, I Am Here. Larissa knows first-hand how practicing gratitude has transformed her life, so we thought we’d share her journey and tips on how to instill more gratitude in your life.
- How did your journey with gratitude get started?
I lost my father in my teens and, around that time, I was trying all different things to make me feel better. Going to a psychologist was by far the best thing I did, and I always encourage others to talk to a professional if they ever need to, but I did also try different things to help me get by each day. One of the things I tried was practicing gratitude.
I started by creating a wall in my bedroom and I stuck pictures and quotes of things that made me feel grateful and I would look at them each day. I then started writing in blank notebooks about all the things I was grateful for, I would really sit in that moment and explain why I am grateful for those things, the more I told myself all the reasons, the more it helped me.
I really believe my Dad would have wanted me to be happy. I remember I had a saying, and it was “I Am Happy, I Am Here” (which is where my business name came from). I would wake up each day and put my feet on the ground and say it, even if some days I didn’t feel it. It was my little reminder to myself.
I have continued to practice gratitude since my teens and I am now in my 30’s. It’s a practice I feel is important to me and to my mental health.
- What are the key benefits of being more grateful?
From my experience, practising gratitude helps me slow down my thoughts and my anxiety. I always have so many thoughts running through my mind each day and it’s a time for me to take a step back from everything and focus on what I have that I am grateful for and to switch all my thoughts to happy/grateful ones.
If I wake up and instantly look at my phone or think about my to-do list, it makes me feel overwhelmed. Writing in a gratitude journal instead really helps. I feel it also helps elevate your mood and decrease stress. I always find that if I start my day with practicing gratitude then if something happens during the day that would usually upset me or annoy me, it doesn’t seem to affect me as much because I am in that positive mind frame. It also puts things into perspective and if you are a believer in the law of attraction like me, you will know how important gratitude is in attracting more positive people and experiences.
- What are your tips for someone just getting started?
I have set up the gratitude journals I sell via my website to be the perfect companion for beginners. They have questions written on each page focusing on gratitude, self-love, goals, and reflection. So, all you have to do is answer them. Every journal also comes with a 14 Day Gratitude Challenge Booklet, which is an educational resource that I created. This booklet has 14+ topics to get you thinking outside the box when writing in your gratitude journal. It has in-depth explanations and examples. Some topics I have in there are things like self-love for your mind & body, technology, necessities, your home, your hobbies, experiences that we have been through and how to see gratitude in them and in your successes, plus a whole lot more.
I created this booklet because people were coming to me telling me that they were writing about the same things each day, so, I wanted to help them see gratitude in all different places. I am proud of the gratitude journals I have and the booklets because I feel like they really help get people started in their gratitude journey.
- How can we ensure our kids grow up feeling grateful? Are there some activities we can do with them from a young age?
Hmm this is a great question! I have a 2 year old and another bub on the way. I haven’t got to the age where he really understands what gratitude is, but I have thought about how I will teach them about it. Having them write in a gratitude journal would be a great way, even if it was a blank notebook. Maybe they could pick a special notebook from the shop that they are excited to write in. They could even draw one thing they are grateful for each day.
In conversation and in things you do each day, you could explain why you feel grateful for the thing you are doing or using and ask them why they feel grateful for it too. An example: When you tuck them into bed at night, you could explain how grateful you are to have a roof over your head and a place to sleep that keeps us out of the cold/heat. You could explain that you’re really grateful for your bed and their bed because it's warm and that you are grateful for the pillow and the blanket because it makes you feel comfortable when you sleep.
I think just showing them you are grateful is a great learning tool for them because they really do watch and pick up on things that their parents do. What a gift it would be to grow up with the power of gratitude!
Thank you so much to Larissa for sharing her journey with gratitude and top tips on how to instil more gratitude in our lives. We really appreciate your time and sharing your story.
MORE ABOUT LARISSA
Larissa is the owner of I Am Happy, I Am Here, @iamhappyiamhere on Instagram. She started the business back in 2017. After using blank notebooks for many years as gratitude journals she wanted to create her own that were beautiful, had the questions set out in them so it was easy for her to write in it and motivated her to do it daily. She also wanted to teach others how to find gratitude in all different places. You can learn more about Larissa or purchase one of her amazing journals via her website www.iamhappyiamhere.com.au.