The power of gratitude cannot be overstated. Its impact is immense, transcending, healing and an essential part of living a happy and fulfilling life. Gratitude is a power that we all have access to, regardless of who you are, where you are, or what you have. It is quick, easy, and doesn’t cost a cent, yet produces the most profound benefits to our health and quality of life.
So what is gratitude?
Gratitude is simply the acknowledgement of the good in life. It is the act of appreciating and seeing the value in all things. We waste so much of our lives waiting for something extraordinary to happen before we can express any sense of gratitude; a raise at work, a new job, a new home, a new car, a holiday, receiving a gift, the start of a new relationship or the birth of a child. And on the other hand, we find it near impossible to express any sense of gratitude when we are going through a hard time. Cultivating a sense of gratitude from the smallest of things, to the grandest, from the ups to the downs, means that we leave no room for anything to be taken for granted.
Living in a state of gratitude not only make us feel good, but the act of expressing gratitude itself has been scientifically linked to an array of health benefits including improved physical and mental health, elevated moods, closer relationships, more life satisfaction, enhanced empathy, better sleep, increased self-esteem, strengthened immunity, and the ability to better navigate through and recover from tough times.
Before all else, simply waking up to a new day is something we should all be giving thanks for, and yet sadly few of us do. We get so caught up in our external environment, our schedules, our egos, and our emotions, that we don’t take the time to feel grateful for all things that we have right now, in this present moment. Every day we let small things go unnoticed, while magnifying our problems and misfortunes. We spend more time complaining about all the things that are going ‘wrong’ then we do appreciating all of the wonderful things that we have.
Being grateful doesn’t mean that we are ignorant to the problems or emotions that surface in our lives. But it does mean that we are better equipped to shift our focus and perspective from the things that we don’t have, to the things we do. And when we compare our problems to our blessings, we are able to become more grounded, more present and see that our ‘good’ always outweighs our ‘bad’.
How to Start a Gratitude Practise
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Start a journal that you will commit to writing down a list of things that you are grateful for daily. When you wake up in the morning, write down a list of all the things that you feel grateful for, and before bed write down a list of things that you noticed and appreciated throughout your day. Commit to this simple practise and see for yourself the changes and shift in mood and mindset that it cultivates.
Don’t just write it, feel it
Its important when writing in our gratitude journal that we really feel the feelings of appreciation. Feeling grateful is a sure way to raise our vibration and shift our point of attraction.
Being mindful is a great way to cultivate gratitude. When we ‘get out’ of our own heads, we give ourselves the opportunity to become more focused in the here and now. We can start to notice and appreciate things that we might normally overlook; a smile from a stranger, the cool breeze and the morning sun, the beauty of nature, or simply the satisfaction of our morning coffee.
When you practise gratitude, you are more likely to feel happier, and in turn be kinder to others, and when you are kind to others, you feel more grateful. And so by expressing gratitude, being kind or courteous, or doing something kind for somebody, we enable the good-feeling cycle to keep going. There is a term “Helpers High” which refers to the production of the ‘feel good’ hormone, dopamine, which is released when we do something kind for another.
Grow from Adversity
Gratitude allows us to shift our perception and therefore allow us to perceive adversity and struggles as not a negative, but a lesson or an opportunity for growth. We are more likely to see the positive in a negative situation when we are adapt at cultivating a sense of gratitude.
Living with gratitude is simply a shift in mindset. It’s an “I get to” instead of “I have too” attitude. It’s seeing the good in all things, big and small. It’s choosing to see lessons in adversity, instead of being a victim. It’s appreciating all of the things that we often take for granted. Its finding joy in simplicity, seeking out pockets of happiness where we would once overlook.
When we can find gratitude in the simplest of moments, we no longer need to live in anticipation of the next big thing to bring us joy, because we can feel it in every single moment, of every single day.