Ever heard the phrase ‘better count your blessings’ but thought it was just another wise phrase from your Grandmother? Well…years of research on gratitude and happiness have shown Grandmother’s advice was right on!
Just like our physical muscles, exercising our muscle of gratitude results in positive shifts in mental and physical health. In her book, The How of Happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want, author Sonja Lyubomirsky writes “…expression of gratitude is a kind of metastrategy for achieving happiness.” Who doesn’t want more happy? An “attitude of gratitude” is a powerful tool for increasing happiness in your life.
Gratitude practices have shown to result in:
-Increased hopefulness about life and future
-More frequent experiences of positive emotions
-Being more helpful toward others
-Greater life satisfaction compared to others who don’t focus on gratitude
-Feeling more optimistic about past, present and future directions
A true gratitude practice requires you tune in, listen, and truly attend to the good parts of life.
The following are four examples of gratitude practices demonstrated to produce results!
Gratitude journal: A simple log, or journal, about things you’re grateful for will make a big difference. The most important things to consider are: 1) commit to a gratitude journal on a regular basis (i.e., daily) and 2) be meaningful about it. While you may be really grateful for the beautiful red tomatoes you’ve grown, writing about them every day keeps your gratitude narrow. Looking for the many things, events, people and experiences you’re grateful for helps to remember the richness of life. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. It might work to write down your thoughts at night or perhaps in the morning. Some people enjoy free-writing while others write down 3-5 things each day that produce a sense of gratitude in their heart. Use paper and pen, the note page on your phone, or task list on your computer. Do what fits for you!
Tune-in with your senses (mindfulness): Use all your senses when learning what fosters a sense of gratitude within you. Examples can be the crisp scent of the air after a rain storm, fresh brewed coffee, the feel of the fuzzy robe after a warm shower, the strong bed supporting your back, etc.
Make a promise to practice gratitude: A significant part of fostering an attitude of gratitude is making a conscious, active choice to be grateful. Sound silly? Science has shown that making a simple vow to increase gratitude helps us notice the numerous ways life is filled with wonderful experiences and people.
Tell someone thank you…it’s just that simple: Express thanks for the server filling your water glass. Thank your partner/spouse for starting a load of laundry. Write an actual thank you note to a friend for no reason other than gratitude for his/her friendship.
Start your gratitude practice today by saying thank you to someone who has shown you a kindness. A simple thanks will do it!
Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC