Have you ever met someone who is not content or happy with what they’ve accomplished in life or simply for everything that they have? I bet you’ve also met someone who is happy regardless of what’s happening to them or their circumstances? If you had to pause and think about who inspires you and who you would want to be, I am 100 percent confident that you would rather choose to be happy and satisfied than the other way around. Well, the good news is that happiness is a choice and expressing gratitude is one of the paths towards leading a life of abundance and happiness.
So, what is Gratitude?
Gratitude from my perspective is being open to all experiences in life and being grateful for every bit of it. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, psychologist and professor at UC Davis, Gratitude has 2 key components- first, it’s the acknowledgement and affirmation of the positive aspects of one’s life. Second component of Gratitude is the understanding that some of the sources of good things in one’s life are from outside of ourselves- other people, places, higher power (if you have a spiritual mindset), the environment and so on.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Why is Gratitude good for you?
Focus on the present
Having an attitude of gratitude helps you focus on the present and experience life as it is. Ever notice a kid building a complex Lego set? Notice that they are so in the moment and focused when building it and once they build it, it gives them momentary happiness but the process of building it is what they enjoy the most and not necessarily the end result? I believe that this applies to everything we do as humans- We work towards specific goals like building a house, getting a job, losing certain amount of weight…the emotional high of accomplishing our goals diminishes pretty quickly once we accomplish something; what keeps us going is the process of working towards those goals and the attitude we have towards our being. Seeing goodness in every moment no matter how small gives us the ability focus on the present.
Good for mind and body
There’s mounting research that shows that gratitude has a host of positive benefits including physical, psychological and social. People who practice gratitude seem to have stronger immune systems, experience more positive emotions and feel less isolated.
Helps build connections
We are naturally wired to connect with others; feeling and expressing gratitude not only helps us with our emotional and physical well being, it also supports in building meaningful connections with others.
Ability to bounce back from touch situations takes a lot of patience, hard work and overall an ability to look at failures as learning opportunities and stepping stones to success. In addition to all of that, appreciating what you have and counting your blessings is a touchstone of building resilience.
How to practice Gratitude?
Are you interested in adding a gratitude practice to your daily schedule? Here are a few simple steps to do that.
- Pick a note book or journal to document everyday.
- Pick a time you prefer to journal.
Pro-tip: Try to add this practice to an existing practice you have. After I drink my coffee, I will write in my gratitude journal.
3. Write down three to five things you are grateful for that day
Pro-tip: Try to find simple things that bring you joy- a brisk walk, connecting with a friend or watching a movie.
Take Gratitude to the next level
You already have a gratitude practice or you want to take it to the next level? Join this 21-day Gratitude Challenge with me and pick one thing to do each day for the next 21 days.
- Think about a friend and how they have supported you. Write a note or send a text expressing your gratitude for them.
- When you go grocery shopping, take a moment to be grateful that you have the resources to get groceries.
- Before you starting eating lunch, be thankful for the food on the table.
- Express your gratitude to the service workers you come across during your day and thank them for their service.
- Make a list of top 20 things you are grateful for in your life.
- Volunteer for a non-profit that you care about.
- Help a friend in need.
- Invite a friend for a cup of coffee or virtual coffee and express your gratitude for their friendship.
- Next time you get coffee or breakfast outside, pay for the next person in line in the drive through.
- Next time you order carry out or dine in, give extra tip and write a thank you note on the receipt.
- Be of service and help a Co-worker in a project or connect them with the right people.
- Think about things you don’t like about yourself. Now, spend some time to re-write the things you don’t like into the things you do like about yourself.
- Reconnect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Donate to your favorite charity.
- Go for a solitude walk in the nature and appreciate the nature around you.
- Write gratitude letters to people who have helped you in moments that meant the most to you.
- Look back in life and think about the most precious moments in your life (getting married, birth of a child, buying a house). Now contemplate what life would have been without it. Now, appreciate those moments that have transformed your life!
- Make a list of people in your life you are grateful for.
- Call one person on your list and tell them how much you appreciate them.
- Think about a habit that you are grateful for and why.
- Do 5 minutes of gratitude meditation.