The Life Changing Power of Gratitude

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.

Be Mindful
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.

Express Gratitude 
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.

Choose Happiness, Now.

Most of us go through life with the idea that happiness is something that comes to us when we obtain a certain thing; popularity, money, riches, fame, the right job, the sports car, the dream home, the perfect body. It seems that we are always chasing that elusive something:

WHEN I get _____, THEN I’ll be happy”
WHEN I am _____, THEN I’ll be happy”
We are always waiting for that certain something to appear in our lives before we give ourselves the permission to be truly happy. We allow our state of being to be at the mercy of our circumstances and give all of our power away to what we believe is out of our hands; fate.

We are living in a world full of instant gratification, living for short term, fleeting happiness, to fuel for our egos, and mask our dissatisfaction. Addictions in all forms, are an extension of this need that we have to gain quick, instant moments of joy, satisfaction, happiness, euphoria. Junk food, exercise, social media, shopping, sex, or tv addictions, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, are all forms of escapism – a way to get happy, quick. But the problem with these habits and addictions is that the ‘happiness’ that we are seeking is always short lived. Until we find a way to obtain real happiness, we’ll continue to sabotage ourselves over and over again. 

Happiness is not only a choice, it’s a commitment. It is something that needs to be worked on, every single day. It is not a result of any outer circumstance. It is not a result of anything, other than our decision, commitment, and mindset. It requires discipline and dedication. But as with anything that requires our attention and commitment, the more we practise, the easier it becomes.

So how do we Choose to be happy?

Live With Intention
Who is it that you want to be in life? What do you want to have be or do? Find your mission, find your purpose, and let it guide you. When you know what you want from life, then you can begin to live intentionally. Decide who you want to be, and start living that life, now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next year. Now.

Establish A Routine
Develop a routine that sets you up to become that person. Creating healthy habits and routines that aligns with our intentions is one of the best ways to change the way we feel about our lives. These habits and practises can include, but aren’t limited to;

A Gratitude Practise
Begin to see all the good in your experience, and you will quickly discover that we have so much to be grateful for. There are so many benefits to living with a gratitude mindset. Start and end your days by listing at least 3 things that you are grateful for, and really feel into it. It should feel really good. See more of the things that you want and focus less on the things you don’t. Remember, we live in a Universe of abundance, not lack, we just have to choose to see it.

Start Journaling
Journaling can look different for everyone, but may include writing affirmations, intentions, gratitude lists, habit tracking, stream of consciousness or ‘brain dumping’, where we unburden our brain by getting our thoughts out onto paper. 

The act of being, not doing. Giving ourselves the time to simply be, invites mental clarity and happiness, and reduces stress and anxiety. We all know the benefits that mediation can have on our wellbeing. 

Positive Thinking
I know, this seems like a pretty obvious one if you want to live more happily. But it can not be under-stated – the power of positive thinking is immense. Catching our negative thoughts are replacing them with thoughts of optimism, joy and gratitude, can and will literally re-wire our brains to respond differently to triggering situations. We will be better equipped to deal with any events in the future that would have otherwise made us angry or upset.

Be Kind
Have you ever heard of “Helpers High”? When you are kind and helpful to others, your body releases endorphins and the happiness hormone, serotonin. These are responsible for the feelings of satisfaction and joy that we feel when we are being of service. Being kind to others is one of the best ways that we can be kind to ourselves. It’s a win win.

Surround Yourself With Happy People
Get honest about the people you spend the majority of your time with. If you are constantly surrounded by negative people, maybe its time to distance yourself. Sure, you can influence others with your new-found happiness, but if they aren’t taking the bait, it might be time to expand your group of friends with people who align with your intentions.

It would be impossible to monitor each of our daily thoughts. It is estimated that the average human being has up to 60,000 thoughts a day, and more shockingly 80% of these are negative. It no wonder that we are all searching for that quick ‘happy’ fix.

Sometimes we feel as though life is something happening to us, that we have no choice in the matter; we are at its mercy. Things happen; stresses, challenges, road blocks and upheavals are all a part of life. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can decide how we respond, we can decide how we feel. 

Every day we are bombarded with choices, and ultimately most of us make our choices based on our desire to experience the best of our lives. There is no decision we can make for ourselves that is more important than that of choosing to be happy. 

The choice is yours. What will you choose?