Devi Brown’s 4 Fundamentals for Practicing Meaningful Gratitude

We chatted with the author, educator and podcast host to learn how to cultivate a sustainable gratitude practice.
Devi Brown

Devi Brown.

Kickstart your New Year with SI Swimsuit’s 31 Days of Wellness! This January, SI Swimsuit will unlock exclusive offerings with brand models, wellness experts, fitness gurus and more, who will guide you through 31 days of rejuvenating workouts, recipes and self-care rituals.

When a brand new year rolls around, we often examine our wellness practices and consider ways in which we can improve or revamp our lives as they are. Perhaps that means incorporating more movement into your day, adjusting your diet or cultivating more gratitude on a daily basis.

In order to learn how we can best incorporate the latter into our lives to benefit our overall well-being, we chatted with author, well-being educator and Deeply Well podcast host Devi Brown to get her expertise on the matter. 

Slow down and recognize the little things

As Brown points out, we often tend to examine our lives through a lens of “big disappointments” or the “big, exuberant wins.” By acknowledging smaller moments of gratitude, like recognizing a small act of kindness, for example, she says we can build a more thoughtful gratitude practice.

“[Doing so] allows us to slow down enough to see the small ways that the universe conspires for us or that the higher being you believe in conspires for you,” Brown explains. “And so gratitude is really powerful because even when you feel like you’re at your lowest point, and you actually have so many needs that are unmet, just the nature of slowing down enough to see the smaller moments in life or some of the bigger stories at play, it gets you out of a feeling that things are against you. And typically when things aren’t going our way, or when we’re suffering with our mental health or our physical health, emotional, spiritual health, it’s so easy for us to think that everything is wrong and gratitude connects us to a place of things being enough.”

Connect to joy

While so much of what happens in our lives is out of our control, Brown points out that by practicing gratitude on a regular basis, we create a surplus of joy to help us better manage the tough times as they no doubt come about.

“It’s almost as if we have this pillowy foundation that some of those bigger issues that aren’t going to be immediately solved can rest upon,” Brown says of gratitude. “It creates a balancing effect that allows us to still approach those bigger things that we can't change immediately, but with a lot more patience, a lot more care, and a feeling that there are also good things at play. Being able to connect to joy, and that really happens when we establish a gratitude practice, being able to connect to joy is the only way to really balance some of the tougher things that are guaranteed to happen in our lives and to continue to happen in our lives.”

Be patient

Brown notes that with any mindfulness exercise, you must first devote yourself to discovering your “why,” or your intention for seeking out gratitude. It’s a process that requires patience and devotion to the experience itself.

“You should be approaching it from a space of coming into relaxation,” Brown, who serves as the Chief Impact Officer at Chopra Global, explains. “Taking some deep breaths before you start this practice, finding a place that you can really connect with yourself ... and doing things that really set you up so that you’re approaching this work from a regulated place [and] doing the things that bring your body into a natural state of calm. Once you’re in that state of calm, really closing your eyes, taking a couple breaths and asking yourself with true care and intention, ‘What am I grateful for?’ Even if life in this moment is challenging, or even if I just don’t have everything that I want or think that I need to have to feel good about myself, what am I grateful for in this exact moment?”

Having patience, Brown says, can either make or break your gratitude practice.

“We have to develop patience for ourselves and patience for the changes that we wish to see happen to actually transpire and transform us,” she notes. “Patience is the part that so many of us—and there is no judgment in this—but that’s the part that so many of us lack because we don’t have patience with ourselves.”

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

She acknowledges that mindfulness practices can often be uncomfortable at the beginning, but we must sit in that discomfort in order to glean any real results. As you build your gratitude practice and cultivate self-awareness, Brown suggests practicing both meditation and breath work on a daily basis.

Whether you choose to put pen to paper and write down the things you’re grateful for each morning, or simply wish to set aside five minutes of mindfulness before you get out of bed in the morning, all that matters is that the practice works for you.

“This is part of the fun and part of the way that we build consistency with a practice,” Brown says. “It’s trying it on a few different ways before we give it up and seeing which way our brain most naturally connects to.”

It’s also important, Brown says, to allow yourself to see how your gratitude practice impacts your overall well-being in the long term.

“Look at the cultivation of this practice as something you’ll explore over the next four seasons. Give yourself the year to really build this practice and just start to gently notice the positive changes that are happening in your life around it,” Brown suggests. “But in no way does anyone need to get this down stat in a weekend, in a week, in a month. Play with it. Let yourself really experiment with this gratitude-building practice and see how it feels slowly over time.”

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.