In an era where instant gratification is the norm, gratitude stands out as a way to transition ourselves from a state of fast-paced anxiety to one of peace and contentment. With so much turmoil in the world, we can feel disheartened and overwhelmed. Cultivating a habit of gratitude not only enhances our personal positivity and resilience but also equips us to uplift others. When we are fulfilled, we naturally seek to enrich the lives of those around us.
Gratitude is more than just saying “thank you”. It’s a deep-seated acknowledgment and appreciation for the positive aspects of life, and for the kindness others show us. This emotion, when genuinely felt and expressed, can change moods, outlooks, and even entire lives. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is a perfect time to create opportunities for gratitude in your daily life. First, let’s discuss some of the benefits of a gratitude mindset.
The Positive Effect of Gratitude
Boosts Mental Well-being
According to a study by Emmons & McCullough done in 2003, individuals who maintained weekly gratitude journals felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the coming week than those who didn’t.
A survey conducted by the John Templeton Foundation discovered that 88% of respondents felt expressing gratitude to colleagues made them feel happier and more fulfilled, yet only 10% acted on that impulse regularly.
Promotes Physical Health
A study with 186 individuals showed that heart failure patients who kept a gratitude journal for 8 weeks had reduced inflammation and improved heart rhythm.
Research from the University of California found that people who regularly practice gratitude see their circumstances with more clarity and creativity, even during adversities, promoting resilience and optimism.
Practicing Gratitude Daily
You might be wondering, how exactly do I embody a gratitude mindset? In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he reflects, "Small habits lead to significant results. It's about the systems we implement, not just the goals we set." To harness the full power of gratitude, make it an integral part of your day through habits.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Write three things you’re grateful for each night. This habit sharpens our focus on life's gifts, big and small. It has also been shown that the thing that you think about last before you go to sleep stays in your subconscious mind as you dream. If you write the three things you are grateful for right before bed you may just have sweet dreams of gratitude and bliss.
This can be to people you know by reaching out and acknowledging someone who's made a positive impact on your life or it can be to yourself. You can thank yourself for doing something courageous that was previously difficult for you. Additionally, if you believe in a greater power, you can thank God for all that you have.
Weave gratitude into your meditation practice, concentrating on the numerous blessings in your life. There are many videos and blogs discussing how you can learn to mediate if don’t know already. This can include breathing exercises and different methods to clear your mind from the daily rigamarole to a state of calm serenity. Once in this state, you can reflect upon the goodness in your life.
Random Acts of Kindness
Convert your gratitude into action. Even small gestures, rooted in thankfulness, can spark a cycle of positivity. Anybody who has had a bad day knows that a smile from a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger can go a long way. Try being that person who gives that little boost to others by smiling at people throughout your day.
Gratitude, The Heartbeat of a Joyful Life
Gratitude isn't just an action; it’s a lens through which we view the world. It emphasizes the abundance, not the lack. By opting for gratitude, we pave a path to joy, contentment, and a deep-seated appreciation of life. As William Arthur Ward astutely observed, “Gratitude can turn mundane days into feasts, routine chores into joy, and ordinary chances into blessings.”
Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84.2 (2003): 377-389.
"Gratitude in Modern Life: Its Role and Importance." John Templeton Foundation, 2012.
Mills, Paul J., et al. "The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients." Spirituality in Clinical Practice 2.1 (2015): 5-17.)
(Davis, Don E., et al. "Thankful for the little things: A meta-analysis of gratitude interventions." Journal of Counseling Psychology 64.3 (2017): 306.