There’s is a lot of talk about practicing gratitude and all its benefits. However, have you ever taken the time to actually practice it?
Practicing gratitude creates an immediate shift in your body. It literally makes you feel better. Its healing properties are well documented by scientific research. Studies show “that grateful individuals experience more positive emotions, are more satisfied with life, and experience fewer negative emotions including depression, anxiety and envy.”
Basically, researchers find that gratitude can make you happier. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
My daily gratitude practice involves expressing my thanks to the Universe for the day and then journaling for 5 or 10 minutes. I will make a list of things I am grateful for in my life. These can be simple things like it being a Friday or the weekend, my cup of coffee or walking my dog. In addition, it can also be for people in my life – my family, friends, or my team at work. I also express gratitude for the books I am reading, the view from my balcony, the weather, trips I’m on or planning. Your list can include literally anything you want to express appreciation for in your life.
Next, once I have my list, I go back and list a reason why I am grateful for each one listed. For instance, on my list I’ve included the view from my balcony. My reason is the peaceful, calming effect of being able to look at the sea and listening to the waves.
Another powerful exercise you can practice is taking a gratitude walk. This can be a simple 5 minute stroll around your block. As you walk, take the time to notice the beauty that is around you: flowers, grass, trees, dogs, cats, people passing by, buildings, the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. It can be anything that catches your eye and is truly pleasing to you. Take it all in and take a moment to quietly express appreciation for it to yourself.
When you return home, you can make a note of what you noticed and appreciated during your walk. Make note as well as how it made you feel.
My daily practice includes my gratitude list, journaling and meditation, which I find keeps me focused and helps to manage my stress. Ideally to start, you might want to try practicing gratitude 3 times per week and to keep it up for at least a 30 day period. Keep notes on how you feel at the beginning of the 30 day period and at the end, to see if you can identify any changes you have experienced as a result. Are you sleeping better? Are you managing stress differently?
For further reading on the practice of gratitude, check out the following books:
Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier – Robert Emmons, Ph.D.
Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity – Robert Emmons, Ph.D.
Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey – A. J. Jacobs
Gratitude – Oliver Sacks
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