Recently I was having dinner with a group of people and we went around and said one thing we were grateful for that day.
The answers were varied: Roast potatoes… cousins… the beach… a warm house… For some at the table an answer came easily, for others it took more thought. I wonder how often you stop and acknowledge things you are grateful for?
Most of us would agree that identifying and reflecting on people, things or situations for which we are thankful makes us feel good, but a growing body of research has demonstrated that the benefits of practicing gratitude go beyond this. Higher energy levels; feeling more happy, enthusiastic, attentive, determined, optimistic; better quality sleep; lower levels of depression and anxiety; improved ability to cope with hard times; closer relationships and improved physical health are some benefits that have been linked to the practice of gratitude.
Research also suggests that it takes as little as 3 weeks of actively practicing gratitude to rewire your brain to start scanning the world for the positive, compensating for our brain’s natural tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life.
The more you bring your attention to that which you feel grateful for the more you notice there is to be grateful for! So, how can we incorporate the practice of gratitude into our everyday lives so we can reap these benefits?
Like many good habits, building your capacity for gratitude isn’t hard, it just takes practice! Here are some suggestions of how to get started.
Tips for practicing gratitude
- Start a gratitude journal – this can be as simple as jotting down a few things you are thankful for or that went well for you during the day / week
- Ask yourself and/or share with others:
- What was the best thing that happened to me today?
- Who am I most grateful for today and why?
- What am I most looking forward to about tomorrow?
- Perhaps you can incorporate your gratitude practice in your broader journaling or during your meditation, mindfulness or prayer time.
Practicing gratefulness is a wonderful adjunct to engaging in a therapeutic process with a mental health professional. The clinicians at the Centre for Effective Living are able to help you incorporate different strategies like gratefulness into your daily living to improve your well-being and to live in more effective and present ways.
Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.
About the Author: Katelyn Tasker