When was the last time that you paused to take stock of all of the things that are going right in your life? Most of us are familiar with the idea of ‘giving thanks’, but how often do we honestly stop to reset and practice gratitude in an authentic, consistent way?
To some degree, the ‘busyness’ of day-to-day life enables us to dismiss the significance of gratitude. We risk missing out on the inherent value that comes from our ability to receive and subsequently, our capacity to give to others.
That doesn’t sound great, does it? Sort of like skipping out on a fundamental piece our humanity if you ask me.
This is serious stuff.
A number of research studies highlight benefits that can come from making gratitude a regular part of your routine. Gratitude can improve heart health, enhance the ability to sleep, improve relationships, increase positive emotion and boost immunity. Studies conducted by gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. found that thankfulness increased overall feelings of happiness and additionally increased the goodwill extended to others.
If you are looking for practical ways to up your gratitude game immediately, try out these recommendations:
1) Celebrate the Good
Increase your gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your life regularly, including relationships and experiences; imagine what your existence could be like in the absence of these elements. Savor these good happenings in the moment, no matter how big or small.
Consistency is key, so give some thought to at least 3 things that are going well daily if you can. Create a gratitude journal that you can use for 5-10 minutes each morning or evening if you want (or not, no pressure).
If you do decide to write things down, you’ll be surprised at all of the awesomeness aplenty in your world at the end of a week, month and year. I’ve personally used a number of different approaches to capture my grateful thoughts with great success: handwritten journals, online Evernote lists, and even a beautiful glass jar with colored slips of paper (thanks again for the inspiration Cindy B!)
Figure out which approach works best for you and make a commitment to be purposeful as you reflect about what you are thankful for.
2) Give Thanks (Literally)
Tell someone ‘thank you’. I’m talking about the cursory ‘thanks’ that we share when someone holds the door as well as the heartfelt, long overdue expressions of appreciation.
Martin Seligman, Ph.D., founding father of positive psychology, suggests that writing (and subsequently delivering) a detailed letter to someone alive whom you never thanked properly for changing your life for the better can boost your happiness and enhance your well-being.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales found that more general expressions of gratitude create the perception of interpersonal warmth that in turn creates an environment in which relationships can blossom and grow. Thanking others can actually enhance our social interactions and strengthen our connections.
3) Make an Intentional Shift
Find natural ways to make gratitude a fundamental part of your routine. Adopt a grateful attitude by investing your energy in what you already have instead of what you want.
Do your best to choose and use proactive language that reflects your goals to recognize what is right in your world without taking anything or anyone for granted.
Ultimately, you’ll need to be honest with yourself. Examine and change your mindset to make gratitude a priority in your life.
Apply these tips right now to cultivate gratitude and reap the benefits that come with such growth. What are you waiting for?
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Make a commitment to be more grateful.
Which of these recommendations do you need to focus on first? Share in the comments below.
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