Gratitude actually has a very powerful energy. The more we are aware of this power and the more we activate our own gratitude, the more we experience happiness, peace and enjoyment of life. The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness is well-known. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater well-being, more success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business and a faster rate of recovery from surgery, for starters.
Though we may be aware of gratitude’s numerous benefits, it can be difficult to sustain the “attitude of gratitude”. We habitually tend to notice what is not working or is lacking in our lives. For gratitude to demonstrate its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become a daily habit, a new way of looking at everything! And that can take some time.
That’s why practicing gratitude is so important. When we practice giving thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying or complaining about what we lack, we open ourselves to begin to to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
It’s important to remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we choose to put our focus and attention. Pain, negativity and injustice exist in this world, but when we choose to use our personal energy to instead focus on the goodness of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope. It gives us a brighter perspective and increases our optimism.
There are so many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, a sunny day, the ability to walk, music, friends and family, chocolate, fresh fruit, warm blankets, laughter, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list? How many things can you come up with? Start keeping a list!
Ways to Practice Gratitude
• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Keep it simple and incorporate it into your daily routine. Just write down 3 things you are grateful for every night before you fall asleep. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so it’s good to start now! Just keeping a gratitude journal in an obvious place where you can often see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
• Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your blessing or prayers at mealtime.
• Make a point of finding the hidden blessings in a challenging situation. They are there if you are just willing to look.
• If you are worried or feel like complaining, instead try to consider the opposite outcome. What’s the best that could happen in any situation? Try this and you may be amazed by how much better you feel.
• Notice how gratitude is changing your life. Write about it, sing about it, give thanks for gratitude.
As you start to practice gratitude, a real inner shift will begin to occur and you may be surprised and even delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of contentment, appreciation and fulfillment is gratitude activated by you, for you. So be grateful for everything you can think of…Why not? It works!