Gratitude is a mental tool that reminds us of the good in our lives. If you practice it enough, it will become a healthy habit! Gratitude makes us more resilient in the tough times and happier in the good times.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin gratia, meaning grace. And gratitude does bring more grace into our lives.
An attitude of gratitude is strongly associated with more positive emotions, the ability to relish good experiences, and helps us deal with adversity and build stronger relationships. People glow when we express gratitude to them, strengthening our connection.
70 studies involving more than 26,000 people show an association between increased gratitude and lower depression. And these studies also indicate that an attitude of gratitude can lessen anxiety, relieve stress and improve sleep.
Gratitude gives us the ability to recognize and recall positive experiences, increasing our joy, optimism, patience and general satisfaction with life.
What’s more, it also helps our physical health by reducing inflammation, and improving blood sugar control and blood pressure. It even increases our tendency to exercise and reduces visits to the doctor!
We can have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong, understandably, because that’s what we need to think about and plan for, so that we can deal with it effectively. But if our minds and hearts are too taken up focusing on our long “To Do” lists, we don’t leave space for the good stuff. Likewise, if we have the tendency to see the negative when we scan what’s going on in our world, we don’t leave space to notice the positives.
If you are thinking: “that all sounds good, but how do I get from here to there?!” we have some simple tried and tested methods below:
“Count your blessings”: This shifts your focus from what’s lacking to what is abundant in your life. These can be small successes, moments of connection with others, and the little pleasures in life, like the first bite of a delicious meal.
Express your gratitude out loud. At the start of a family meal, have each person round the table talk about the best thing that happened to them that day.
Take the time to smell the roses really is good advice. Or marvel at the beauty of dewdrops on a spider’s web, or cloud formations in the sky. A few seconds of attention and awe can lift and calm the mood. Expressing your gratitude or delight out loud, even just to yourself, makes the experience stickier in the brain.
The techniques below are from The Happiness Advantage by Sean Achor:
The 3 gratitudes. Think about 3 things from the previous day for which you are truly grateful and what about each you are grateful for. Say them out loud or write them down, e.g. I’m so glad it was sunny yesterday because I got to have a lovely walk with my friend.
The doubler. Bring to mind the memory of the most meaningful thing that happened over the last 24 hours, and write down every detail you can about it.
This stimulates same parts of the brain as the experience did.
Reconnect to a social support network. For 2 minutes a day, write something nice to a friend. Having good social support is as predictive of longevity as not smoking and staying slim, and it reduces depression.
Any practice of gratitude, done for 21 consecutive days, will shift your perspective and create more grace in your life.
Thank you for being part of the Shine Health Project! We are ever grateful for your support!