The practice of gratitude as a tool for creating happiness has been mainstream for years. Long-term studies support the effectiveness and benefits of gratitude practice suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery. The power of a gratitude practice is substantial.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, its practice can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential, it needs to become more than just an empty word that is tossed around occasionally. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit, a whole new outlook on our life. And that can take some time.
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
There are many things to be grateful for: colourful autumn leaves, legs that walk, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm cosy jackets, ripe tomatoes, clean air, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?
Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way. It helps you to look past the problem in a situation to find the blessing in everything, even if that blessing is a difficult lesson.
- Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures of things for which you are grateful
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your night time routine
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation
- When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel
- Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude
- Give at least one compliment daily. It can be directed to a person or you could invite someone to share your appreciation of something else – such as “I love how beautiful the autumn leaves are, don’t you?”
- When you find yourself in a difficult situation instead of getting angry or fearful ask yourself, What can I learn here? How can I grow from this experience? What is there here that I might later look back on and be grateful for?
- When you’re in a situation that creates negative feelings within you, search for something positive you can focus on instead. For example, instead of “it’s cold and dreary this morning” think of “the fresh crisp morning air clears my head so I can focus better.”
What are you most grateful for in your life today? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications
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