“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brené Brown
What is gratitude and why is it so important.
Psychology Today defines gratitude as “…the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth.”
While gratitude is an emotion, being grateful is an action as well. Gratitude often comes when we are mindful and take the time to observe the beauty in our lives. Expressing gratitude helps us to turn to feelings of joy, which in turn can create chemicals that produce peace and well-being in our whole body. When expressing gratitude, our brains release dopamine, which helps make us feel good and happy.
Research has shown that we can increase our mental and physical health and optimistic outlook on life, as well as decrease stress through a regular gratitude practice. Additional benefits from a regular gratitude practice include experiencing more positive emotions, feeling more alive, improved sleep, expressing more kindness and compassion, healthier and fulfilling relationships, increased academic and professional success, and a stronger immune system.
Studies have also shown that practicing gratitude can reduce the use of words expressing negative emotions and therefor shift our inner attention away from negative emotions such as resentment and envy. This minimizes the possibility of ruminating, which is a feature of depression. Change the way you think and you can change the way you feel. With a regular gratitude practice, you may find over time that it becomes easier and easier to identify all that you are grateful for and see even more beauty in the world around you.
Here are six tips for starting and maintaining a gratitude practice.
1. Start a gratitude journal and take note of joys throughout your day, big or small.
2. Each night write down three things you are grateful for that day, place them in a jar and watch it fill up.
3. Write thank-you notes to people in your life.
4. Share your gratitude out loud to those around you.
5. Spend more time around family and friends and people that uplift you.
6. Repeat daily gratitude affirmations, such as “I am grateful for this beautiful day” or “Today I will embody an attitude of gratitude”.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of gratitude, check out the following article from Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/an-introduction-to-mindful-gratitude/