Last Thursday was World Gratitude Day, an annual reminder of the importance of giving thanks for what we have.
Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive. The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years.
Long-term studies show that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of wellbeing, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still 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 in our lives, it needs to become more than just a passing sentiment.
We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit.
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 wellbeing.
Gratitude balances us and gives us hope. There are many things to be grateful for: fragrant spring blossoms, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, a warm bed, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies.
What’s on your list?
Finding things to be grateful for and expressing your gratitude will train your mind to begin looking for the positives in your life and can instantly improve your mood.
Here are 5 ways you can get started…
1. 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.
2. Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your night time routine.
3. Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
4. When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
5. Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Then write about it, say thanks to someone you has helped you out, express your gratitude for your colleagues in a team meeting and enjoy the reactions!
Which will you choose to do today?