Today I will be talking through exercises and habits for cultivating gratitude.
The benefits of having a daily gratitude practice are nearly endless. This is a simple practice but the challenge is taking the time to integrate it into your daily life.
It can take 21 days to form a habit and then it will become more second nature.
Committing to taking time each day to notice and reflect on the things that have gone well during the day, that you are thankful for increases your health and well-being.
The practice of gratitude has been studied in the field of positive psychology the study of what makes life worth living.
Gratitude has become a positive psychology intervention that is used in several settings.
Research in this field has found that the practice of being thankful in life is strongly associated with well-being and happiness.
Gratitude facilitates “meaning- finding” in our ordinary life events which is fuel for psychological resilience.
The practice of gratitude has been found to increase positive emotions, altruistic behaviour, and reduce physical complaints, stress, depression, and worry.
Indeed, research has found that gratitude is linked to all levels of well-being and has become a popular intervention that fosters positive functioning and psychological strengths.
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Benefits of Gratitude Practice
The connection between gratitude and well-being has been explored in numerous scientific studies. In one study of over 5,000 adults, researchers found that gratitude was strongly associated with life satisfaction.
Other studies have shown that people with more gratitude have greater happiness and lower levels of stress and depression.
Taking it a step further, researchers have tried to find out if practicing gratitude can have physical and psychological benefits, including for people who are struggling in life.
The answer has been a resounding “yes.” A broad range of benefits was found in people who regularly practice gratitude, including:
- More joy and happiness
- Greater optimism and pleasure
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- Feeling less lonely and isolated
- More resilience after trauma
- Stronger immune system
- Less bothered by pain
- Lowered blood pressure
- Healthier habits
- Better sleep quality
Practicing gratitude has even been shown to bring about changes in the brain.
People who practiced gratitude regularly showed greater activation in a region of the brain known to be associated with experiencing gratitude.
This means they may be even more sensitive to future gratitude experiences, potentially resulting in mental health benefits over time.
Finally, gratitude has been shown to have social benefits, including improvements in relationships such as romantic relationships and workplace relationships.
When you are grateful for what others have done for you, you’re more likely to want to do good deeds for others.
Scientific knowledge around benefits of gratitude practice continues to grow.
Cultivating Gratitude – Ultimate Guide!
Taking time to appreciate the good things in the world can easily be built into your daily life. Here are some simple steps to help you cultivate a daily gratitude practice:
We always seem to resist what is good for us. You may not always feel motivated to complete this practice but do it anyway.
Don’t let excuses get in your way. It will still have benefits even if you have to force yourself some days. Commit to doing this daily and it will soon become a habit like brushing your teeth.
It may be helpful to pick a time each day that you will complete your gratitude practice. It may be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or in the evening.
Once you have a schedule made for yourself take out a journal either in paper format or you can use your computer and begin.
You can start with, “I am grateful for…”
This can be difficult in the beginning to connect to the things you are grateful especially if your life is not what you would like it to look like.
There are always things in our life that are going well. It may be just that you are breathing, that you showered, maybe a smile on a stranger’s face, etc.
Try to find new things each day you can be grateful for rather than just repeating the same things each day.
Tap into your creativity. Again, this may feel odd when you first start. You have just planted a seed and with nurturing this practice it will blossom.
3. Feel it
Allow yourself to feel grateful not just in your mind but in your body. Feel the warmth of appreciation, love, and connection.
Allow it to seep into your pores as you embody it. Place a hand on your heart as you feel your body being lifted as it radiates through you.
You may not always be able to feel gratitude in an embodied way but when you do savour it.
Allow it to fill your heart and use its energy as fuel in your life.
4. Continue even after you start to see results
Too often people take a break from the practice once they start to see results. When one does this the results also begin to diminish.
Commit to making this a lifelong practice. You may miss a day here and there as you are only human but just continue to come back consciously noticing and reflecting on what is going well in your life and what you are thankful for.
Celebrate tiny achievements
You should always celebrate the mini milestones along the way, even if it’s just making it through a bad day.
It can feel silly to give yourself a pet on the back for doing something that’s relatively easy to do, but who cares?
You know how challenging it was to host a fabulous party for your kids with little means, how much work you put into finishing that task despite the pain in your back.
Be proud of yourself!
“Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.” – Jim Rohn
It’s not easy to practice gratitude when you don’t feel like it, and it’s perfectly normal that you don’t feel over-the-moon blessed when you’re going through tough times.
But you can be sad and disappointed about the problems you’re facing and feel grateful about the things that are going well in your life at the same time.
In fact, positive feelings like thankfulness can help you deal better with the inevitable negative ones.
Be creative with your practice
Finding new and creative ways to integrate gratitude into your everyday life can keep things fun.
It is important that you make this practice your own and so it has personal meaning for you.
We should not do things because we believe we should when it does not resonate with this.
There are indeed several things you can do to improve your health and happiness, but it is up to you to put your signature on it, make it meaningful to you and you will reap even more rewards.
Below are some examples of how you can be creative with your gratitude practice.
Start a gratitude list or journal
So this post clearly shows you the importance of gratitude in life. Make it a daily habit! And a gratitude journal is, of course, a perfect way to express your gratitude every day.
Writing down 3 things that went well that day is a proven method to boost feelings of gratitude and happiness.
You can reap the most rewards from your gratitude journal by focusing on people and experiences rather than things you’re thankful for.
No need to make a long list of things you’re supposed to feel grateful for – a detailed description of one specific thing that sparked thankfulness works best.
No matter if you just list on a piece of paper what you are grateful for, or you write it in your journal, like a story, it helps you to reflect every day how many great things you already have in your life.
The below is an excellent journal for your gratitude practice:
Make a gratitude list
Like the gratitude journal, one large list is a great way for you to visually see the great things going on in your life.
Add to your list every single day, and you’ll be forced to get creative so you don’t repeat.
Gratitude and Generosity really go hand in hand. And I even invented my own formula for this:
Gratitude + Generosity = Abundance
Generosity signals to the Law of Attraction that you have more than enough, so much, that you can even share some of it.
Your gratitude for these things, even more, supports the whole thing.
And you get a double effect! Because those you give to, they will undoubtedly return gratitude.
Take a daily photo of something you’re grateful for
It doesn’t have to be beautifully lit, nicely staged, or Instagram-worthy.
This could be a grainy photo of your car with the snow scraped off because neighbour is thoughtful. It can be a poorly lit photo of one perfectly ripe peach or your dog making a funny face.
It can be a blurry photo capturing the joy of five friends who haven’t seen each other in years.
Taking daily gratitude photos pushes you to find something good every single day and since they’re in your phone, you’ll have access to all those happy memories when you’re stuck in a less gratitude-inducing situation.
Start a gratitude jar
A gratitude jar is something I came across last year and found it such a wonderful idea.
You take a big jar and colourful paper, and every day you write something on a piece of paper for which you are thankful, and so you fill the gratitude jar, day by day.
At the end of the year, you open each of these notes and read them out loud.
This is a recipe for 365 days of gratitude.
What could be better?
Mindfully reflect on your blessings during the day
At various points throughout the day, mindfully look for things to be grateful for – then acknowledge them.
Once you begin to intentionally look for things to be thankful for, this will become a habit you don’t have to think about anyone.
You’ll start to appreciate the taste of your morning tea or coffee more than ever.
You’ll notice that simple pieces of your daily life are actually quite special and something you can celebrate.
Purchase a book, research it on YouTube. The Mindfulness practice is life changing when used consistently and persistently!
Create a gratitude wall
A gratitude board is a great alternative to a vision board.
All you need is a free spot on a wall or a pin-board, and every time you feel grateful for something that you have or that just happened to you, write it on a note and post it to your gratitude wall.
Of course, it is also important to regularly read through these notes and reflect on the amazing life you are already living.
Incorporate gratitude into your mediation
Gratitude meditation may take a little bit of practice, but it’s easy enough even for those new to meditation.
Don’t let the concept of meditation intimidate you; it can be quite a rewarding way to experience the benefits of gratitude practice.
The simplest way to get started with gratitude meditation is with a guided meditation.
Start with a shorter length of time, say 5 minutes, and over time you may want to work up to longer, such as 15 or 20 minutes.
It all depends on your schedule and how the practice feels to you.
The below is an excellent guided meditation that I use regularly:
You’ll want to sit comfortably, relax, and close your eyes. Release your tension and focus on your breath. Let all other thoughts float away.
The guide will take you through a series of prompts to reflect on what you are grateful for.
You can even be grateful for challenges you experience, because they provide opportunities to learn and grow.
You can try the guided meditation below or use a meditation app to look for one.
Insight Timer is a free meditation app that’s great to try. Be sure to notice how you feel after your gratitude meditation.
Try gratitude meditation a few times a week for optimal benefit.
Tell others that you are thankful
Tell people that ‘you’re grateful and thank them for everything positive they bring into your life.
Whether that’s the friendly staff member in the coffee shop who served you with extra care or the lady next door who feeds your cat when you’re away for the weekend.
Giving back is one of the most beautiful things in life, and it is so good to express our gratitude to the people who are valuable to us regularly.
Share your gratitude for your loved ones
Most of us are a little bit guilty of taking our loved ones for granted.
The next time you notice a kind act by a loved one, why not show gratitude by simply saying ‘thank you’ , or giving a hug?
We ought to show appreciation and not let kind acts go unnoticed.
Training yourself to show your gratefulness for loved ones can strengthen your relationships with others.
Spread gratitude via your social media platforms
Social media can feel so negative at times, but using it to share your gratitude can help create a more positive online atmosphere.
For example, share an uplifting moment from a recent event or a lesson you learned from a book you read, or a photo of a place near you that you’re grateful for.
Spreading good, and in a unique and uplifting way, is one way we each can do our part in this digital age to remind each other that we have a lot to be grateful for.
Let us each inspire one another in this way.
Training our minds to practice gratitude more often is possible if we are mindful of ourselves, each other and our environment.
Let us widen our circle of appreciation. Please share your ideas for reminding yourself to be grateful.
Share your gratitude practice
Our relationships can be the source of our greatest happiness. Incorporating people into your practice can help boost your experience.
You can partner with someone which will help keep you accountable and motivate you on the days you may struggle with the practice.
It may also help to see what other people have written as part of their practice making it easier to also notice those things in your life.
Sharing the things, we are grateful for with our family and friends can have several additional benefits.
This can be a practice that is also built into family routines such as before dinner or at breakfast.
Another way to boost the influence of gratitude is a gratitude letter.
This involves writing a letter to someone who had a positive impact on your life that you have never thanked properly.
You can send this letter to them or visit them and read it to them.
Too often we fail to thank the people who have added value to our lives.
Taking the time to formally express this to them expands the reaches of your gratitude practice.
Bringing more care and love into this world is a very powerful thing, do not think this is trivial, it is grand.
Be Grateful For The Little Things
In a world where everything has to be faster, bigger, and better, we often forget the small things.
When it comes to expressing your gratitude, it’s the little things that count because these little moments in life add up and can determine how your overall vibrational alignment is.
There are so many little things in life for which we can be grateful.
A beautiful sunrise, the sun shining on your face in the morning, the freshly brewed coffee, a smile from a stranger passing by, your good mood, the birds singing on your way to work, a text message from a good old friend, a meeting that worked out great, a nice chat at lunch break, the soft blanket you can fall into after a hard day at work.
And I could go on and on.
Every day we have countless experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
If we only showed our gratitude for a small part of them, our lives would change dramatically.
Cultivating gratitude – Final thought
Let’s be real for a second. It’s impossible to be grateful all the time. Sometimes we experience seasons in our life when gratitude is a struggle.
People who practice gratitude will still experience sadness or other negative emotions.
This is all normal and you should never feel guilty for not being grateful all the time.
Let’s start today’s gratitude practice, what are YOU grateful for today?
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!
If you have any questions please reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about subjects such as spiritual growth, self-discovery, expanding your awareness, inner peace, self-care and mental health. Please connect with me on my journey and join the community!