The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, 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.
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 Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time or not, it all depends upon you.
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.
What we put our focus on grows. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope. The more we are thankful, the more things that we are grateful for show up in our lives.
There are many things to be grateful for: my grandson’s smiling face, colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, did I say chocolate? 😉 , apples, fresh eggs, a warm coat, the ability to read, roses, my health. What’s on your list?
Some 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. Make it part of your nighttime routine. Every night before putting head to pillow, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. You’ll end your day on a positive note and in the morning, you just might have a smile on your face! Another day to be grateful!
• Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
• Practice gratitude around the dinner table.
• 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, and express thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
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Linda Ray, Holistic Health Coach
I AM Woman Health & Wellness Coaching