November marks a time when gratitude is on our minds more than ever. This month, we want to highlight the power of gratitude, and how it can change your life. Unexpected, unfortunate things happen beyond our control. We lose people, we lose jobs, we see global crises happen. In these challenging times, we might think “How am I going to get through this?” What is reassuring is there are many tools we can develop to cope with the hardships of life, one of the most transformative being gratitude. In today’s blog, you’ll learn:
- What is gratitude
- How gratitude can transform your life
- How to invite more gratitude into your life
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an emotion or attitude characterized by a sense of thankfulness and appreciation for the good things in life. It involves recognizing and acknowledging the kindness, support, gifts, experiences, or positive aspects of life, both big and small. Gratitude can be directed towards others, the world, and even oneself, and it involves recognizing the inherent value and worth of what is appreciated.
Gratitude has been called an “affirmation of goodness”. When we practice gratitude we affirm that good things can and do happen to us and others. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some goodness in our lives. (Ref: Greater Good Magazine | UC Berkeley)
The power of gratitude
The act of gratitude shifts our mindsets, and what begins in the mind soon affects the body and beyond. Researchers have found that practicing gratitude not only makes us feel better emotionally but has direct effects on our physical and mental health.
Positive psychology is a brand of psychology that focuses on living well. Living well means living optimally, in a way that supports the goals you have for your life. Gratitude is a major component of positive psychology.
In an article by Harvard Health, three tenants of positive psychology are reported:
- Connecting with others
- Savoring pleasure
- Developing a sense of gratitude
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Ref: Harvard Health
Gratitude supports better health
Science shows that gratitude has tremendous impacts on physical and mental health. Something as simple as sitting down with a pen and notebook each night can prevent illness, strengthen relationships, and improve quality of life overall.
Numerous journals have reported health benefits correlated with gratitude including:
How to create more daily moments for gratitude
Not only does a daily gratitude practice put out positive energy, but is also a transformative wellness practice that literally makes you healthier. Like finding glimmers, finding things to be grateful for just takes a bit of attention and mindfulness. Once it becomes a habit, taking daily moments of gratitude will become second nature.
Make it a daily practice
Routine is a gift to the mind and body. Just as you might seek consistency in a fitness routine or your skincare, you can seek consistency in taking moments of gratitude. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you back.
- Create specific rituals that remind you to practice gratitude. For example, use mealtime as an opportunity to express thanks for the food you're about to enjoy.
- Begin your day with a moment of reflection. As soon as you wake up, take a few deep breaths and think about something you're grateful for. It could be a beautiful sunrise, a loved one, or a new opportunity.
- Before going to bed, reflect on your day and identify three things that you're thankful for. This practice can help you end the day on a positive note and promote better sleep.
Gratitude journaling has been touted as one of the most effective ways of practicing gratitude.
The act of writing them down reinforces your sense of gratitude. In addition to various health benefits, the act of writing down what you feel grateful for has an impact on lifestyle and productivity.
- Increased Goal Attainment: Focusing on what you're grateful for can motivate you to work towards your goals with a more positive attitude and a greater sense of purpose.
- Greater Optimism: Gratitude journaling can shift your perspective towards a more optimistic outlook on life, even in the face of adversity.
- Improved Sleep: Writing in a gratitude journal before bedtime can clear your mind of worries and promote better sleep quality, helping you feel more rested.
Write thank you notes
The holiday season is a great time to bring out thank you cards, but there are plenty of opportunities year-round to thank someone in your life. People to send thanks to could be:
- Your work colleagues
- Family members
- Your esthetician, manicurist, or any other service provider
- Mail couriers
Spreading positivity by letting others know you’re grateful for them supports feelings of community. Making another person feel special creates a domino effect of well-being, your small act of kindness will affect others you may not even know.
In researching the transformative effects of gratitude, we’ve gathered these three main takeaways:
- In a world where we endure suffering and hardships, gratitude affirms all the goodness that is truly present in the world
- Gratitude not only improves our relationship with others and the world around us but can help improve our physical health
- Creating daily moments for gratitude can be simple, a daily ritual, journaling, or surprising a loved one with a token of your appreciation are great ways to start
During this month of gratitude, we encourage you to take time to express what makes you feel genuinely grateful, and share with others what comes to mind.