During the American Thanksgiving holiday, many bloggers and reporters share their thoughts on the importance of gratitude. I find this encouraging, because the power of gratitude is reviewed with a larger population, and slightly frustrating because most posts and online articles review only saying thanks or the meaning behind this holiday.
In May, I wrote a post about gratitude being one of ten happiness habits. As I reflected on the post it reviewed instituting an attitude of gratitude yet fell short on the importance of instituting a practice of gratitude. I’d like to correct that this post.
Why is shifting beyond having an attitude of gratitude to having a practice important? Because adopting a practice of gratitude helps put your life into perspective.
When you can see the good as well as the bad it becomes much more difficult to complain or to stay stuck in an unhappiness state. Practicing gratitude helps you to see and appreciate everything that you already have and it reduces your need for wanting more.
- Increases your feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, and enthusiasm.
- Strengthens your immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, makes you less annoyed by aches and pains and encourages you to exercise more and take better care of your health.
- Improves your sleep by spending less time awake before falling asleep and feeling more refreshed when we wake. If you want to sleep more soundly count your blessings – not sheep. 🙂
- Makes you more resilient and has been found to help people recover from traumatic events including those with PTSD.
- When you feel and express gratitude for your loved ones you become more satisfied with relationships; making you feel even closer and more committed to friends and a romantic partner.
Another fact I became aware of as I reviewed multiple Thanksgiving posts and articles, was they didn’t review the specificity of gratitude. After sharing how thankful you are for your Mom say why! This not only gives gratitude more meaning, which will help you invoke the memory when you are having a bad day, it helps to support the positive ripple effect that is created from having a practice of gratitude.
Here are a few ways you can start a daily practice of gratitude:
- Notice your world from a point of gratitude. Enjoy the beauty and amazement at all of the good we usually take for granted.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. Write in it everyday at least 3 – 5 things you are grateful for and don’t forget why you’re grateful.
- Give at least one compliment a day. This can be towards a person or by asking someone to share your appreciation of something. “Did you notice how gorgeous those clouds were today?….We are so lucky that we live here.” Or, it can be a compliment to someone who you appreciate or love or even to a complete stranger.
- When you find yourself in a sticky or negative situation, ask yourself: What can I learn from this? When you look back, without emotion, what will you be grateful for?
- Make a promise to not complain, criticize, or gossip for two weeks. If you slip, gather your willpower and keep going. Notice the amount of energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions.
- Become involved in a cause that is important to you. Donate your time, money or talent. You will gain a greater appreciation for the cause and in turn they will appreciate you.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of our life. It turns what we have into enough, and more! It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie
For me, practicing gratitude should not only be top of mind during the Thanksgiving holiday. It should be a habit practiced daily.
You help me be continually motivated to write, to research, learn, and grow my knowledge and ideas, thoughts and practices which support Personal Mastery concepts. And a bonus is my writing skills are improving! 😉 Additionally, I’m appreciative to those who share the love by sharing their likes and comments which let me know what they like and don’t like about my content.
I wish all of my American and non-American friend followers well on this day of Thanksgiving – an International day of starting a gratitude practice. Yup, I just made this up….hum…sounds good doesn’t it? 🙂
Cheers and thank you for reading!