Learn the benefits of embracing gratitude and how to practice it each and every day by showing appreciation and returning kindness.
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Gratitude can simply be broken down to appreciating the good things in your life. It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging. However, learning how to embrace gratitude can change your attitude and significantly boost your happiness. Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of, too. Let’s discuss ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.
What is Gratitude?
There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks believe gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits. These can all be correct. In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. However, even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful on a regular basis through our ‘glass is half full optimism‘ likely need to work on evoking such an outlook.
Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you perform regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them. This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.
Benefits of Embracing Gratitude
Many of the benefits of practicing gratitude have been scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset.
Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health. Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality and energy levels. Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness. You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side. This can contribute to better relationships, too. Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine.
Practice Gratitude Each Day
Write down 3 things that day that you are grateful for.
Use gratitude meditations and affirmations regularly.
Thank someone for something you are grateful for, no matter how small.
Now you have a better idea of just what making a concerted effort to count your blessings can do for your life. Embracing and expressing gratitude are more important than many of us realize.
Gratitude is an Attitude
One really easy way to get started on a gratitude practice is to make a habit of counting your blessings both morning and night. Simply taking a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed is enough to begin cementing this new practice into your routine. Before long, you’ll be easily noticing that blessing abound. Here are some tips to help you begin.
Easing into any habit is usually the best approach (read my post, 3 Steps to Form New Habits, for more info) By making it easier on yourself, you’ll be more inclined to continue moving forward. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to come up with grand examples of gratitude when you’re just starting out. Just appreciating the bed where you’re starting and ending the day can be something to add to your initial list. Sometimes simply recognizing a tiny blessing can have a big impact.
Write it Down
Use a journal to write down your thoughts. It really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to simply think about what you appreciate, and you don’t have to have strong writing skills in order to jot down three sentences. There truly are some amazing benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.
While it’s called a “gratitude journal”, it’s actually a tool or a record. Take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things. Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Keeping a gratitude journal gives you a written record to pull out and look back on any time you’re feeling less than fortunate. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.
Use Gratitude Meditations & Affirmations To Boost Your Spirit
You’ve probably heard of both meditations and affirmations, though you may be uncertain of just what they are and how they work. They may even seem a bit too new-age for you, but don’t underestimate their power just yet. These two practices are actually quite simple to add to your routine or even to use in a particularly stressful moment to gain perspective.
What are Meditations?
Meditation is really just a practice of taking some quiet time to be mindful and focus your attention on a particular thought or issue. It’s a moment of silent reflection that focuses you on the here and now. Gratitude meditations involve focusing your thoughts on being grateful for the particulars of your life or situation, even the ones that may not seem so positive.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are short, concise, and positive sentences that are meant to purposefully affect the ways in which we think and feel. These can be in both conscious and unconscious ways. What we think greatly influences how we feel and behave. Introducing these positive messages into your life on a regular basis can help you to internalize them and begin living accordingly. Gratitude affirmations focus specifically on being grateful and appreciative.
How to Use Them
Both meditation and affirmation are easy to put into practice. They can be used almost any time and anywhere. When you think of meditation, a long, intensive ritual may come to mind. In actuality, you don’t need to spend a lot of time meditating in order to reap the benefits. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes and contemplating on what you’re grateful for can help to center you and to provide a new perspective, which often will lead to feeling better. When it comes to affirmations, a good practice might be to combine them with your gratitude journal. Write down positive messages that apply to your life and help to inspire or motivate you. Then you can pull out your collection of affirmations for a pick-me-up when you need one.
Gratitude meditations and affirmations are simple tools that offer a big return. They take only a few minutes to practice, and you really don’t need any special equipment. Give them a try when you feel you could use an injection of gratitude in your life.
Show Your Gratitude With Words
We’ve talked about the process of writing in a gratitude journal and the kinds of benefits that activity can offer. Writing is a powerful process. Sharing your written words of appreciation with others can have an even bigger impact than journaling privately. Personal notes can really brighten a person’s day, and the positive vibes are far-reaching.
Written Word Has Power
In a busy world, we can get caught up in ourselves and the things we absolutely must accomplish each day. It’s easy to forget to acknowledge the important people in our lives. It’s for precisely this reason that receiving a note of thanks or appreciation is so very meaningful. People simply don’t receive these spontaneous offerings on a regular basis. That’s why setting aside the time and making the effort to write such a message is so powerful, for both you and the receiver.
Sharing Gratitude Strengthens Bonds
A personal note or message goes far to show you care. Words have meaning, but it’s often said that actions speak louder. The recipient of your note will be surprised to receive it. A positive surprise almost always improves someone’s day and mood. This can be especially impactful if you intentionally send your message to someone you know is going through a rough patch. Regardless, this small gesture will go far to strengthen existing bonds because it’s such a customized act. When people feel a personal attachment, they tend to experience feelings of closeness and meaning. Your written acknowledgment of their importance in your life will surely affect your relationship in a positive way.
Your words of gratitude don’t have to be in hand-written form, though it truly is a nice touch that’s a rarity these days. You can send electronic correspondence if you prefer. Your message doesn’t have to be long, either. Any written words of appreciation will be a start and can be quite meaningful.
Gratitude Sharing Ideas
Place a post-it love note in your child’s lunch box.
Slip a love letter in your spouse’s pocket.
Send a co-worker an email thanking them for their assistance.
Mail your best friend a funny card with a personal note, just because.
Text a friend a note of support on a difficult day.
Give your doctor or other professional a handwritten message of thanks.
Write a letter to a loved one expressing your appreciation.
This is just a shortlist to spark your own creativity. People from your past, older relatives, neighbors, kids’ teachers, and other meaningful people in your life should be considered as recipients of your words of gratitude. If possible, try to take on this practice daily, at least for a while. You’ll see the momentum can lead to some pretty amazing results.
Gratitude really is an attitude and sometimes it needs a bit of an adjustment. I hope these ideas will set you on the way to enjoying the benefits that come from daily gratitude. Let me know how it’s helped in the comments below.