“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”
~ Germany Kent
We often think about what we are grateful for around the holiday season, but the practice doesn’t have to be restricted to November and December. Gratitude is a way for individuals to appreciate what they have, instead of reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier. This month, I’m looking deeper into some ways we can enhance our sense of gratitude.
According to positive psychology research, the practice of acknowledging the goodness in your life has many benefits, while also recognizing the source of that goodness may lie outside of your control. Most of the studies published on the topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.
Research studies indicate people practicing some form of gratitude feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, realize improvements in their immune system and sleep patterns, are better able to deal with adversity and are more likely to build strong relationships and feel less lonely and isolated.
According to the internationally renowned scientist, writer, and meditation teacher John Kabat-Zinn, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little. Saying thank you, holding the door for someone, these little moments can change the tone of your whole day.”
Interested in rewiring your brain for more joy and less stress? Here are a few ways to get started with your daily gratitude practice:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal – establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy.
- Write a thank you note – develop a habit of sending at least one gratitude note/letter a month. In addition to you feeling happier, you will also nurture your relationship with that person. It’s also suggested to write one to yourself periodically.
- Remember the hard times – to be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced. Remembering difficult times and how you have overcome them helps to spark the reflection on what you are grateful for.
- Use your senses – the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear – we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human. Recognizing the complexity of what it means to be human helps us appreciate the gift.
- Watch your language – practice a linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. Use these words to focus on the inherently good things others do on your behalf.
- Go through the motions – grateful motions include smiling, saying “thank you” and “good morning”, as well as making time for mindfulness meditation. Demonstrating these types of grateful motions results in your brain triggering the emotion of gratitude more often.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and appreciate your time, effort, and energy to consider establishing and/or enhancing your daily gratitude practice. With a smile, I wish you a beautiful day and holiday season.