Wake up to Gratitude
Have you taken gratitude for granted?
Over the years, I have personally witnessed the change in people who regularly and consciously practice being grateful, and I have to say, it too transformed my own life in so many wonderful ways too numerous to mention here!
Of course, “thank you” is an essential and everyday part of life and communication, but this might be why so many people have dismissed gratitude as simple, obvious, and unworthy of serious attention. But recently that outlook is starting to change.
Scientists (26 studies here) have begun to chart a course of research aimed at understanding gratitude and the circumstances in which it flourishes or diminishes. They’re finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report benefits including the following:
- Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More joy, optimism, and happiness
- Acting with more generosity and compassion
- Feeling less lonely and isolated
How it works – The the Science bit…
- Our brain is a single processor, and when you are focused (however briefly) on things to appreciate in your life, there is literally not much space left for anger, sadness or worry.
- As the practice continues you strengthen those neuro-pathways that look for what’s good in your life, making it easier and easier for your brain to find things to appreciate.
- When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful over a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep and even experience fewer headaches than control groups.
- Practicing gratitude daily for 30 days can significantly raise your optimism even 6 months later.
Getting started with your own Gratitude Practice
For the next 30 days in a row, write down three things you are grateful for and why. The three things must be different every day and they must be specific; you cannot say you are grateful for your health or family without saying why. It’s helpful to choose the same time each day to write these down – many choose to do this right before bed, others like to kick off their work day with it (before checking their email), still others like to set a calendar reminder for a specific time each day. Find a time that works best for you.
Hand write or electronic notes, whatever you prefer.
Start of something like this…”Today I’m am grateful for…
- For the cuddle my son/daughter gave me this morning
- For the thank-you note my neighbor sent me yesterday, It made me feel valued
- That my head-cold has gone and I can get back to my regular running schedule which helps me feel good and energised.
- For the milk in my fridge and the smell of my coffee brewing
- That the sun was shining when I woke up this morning, how the trees and shrubs are budding and blooming
- As you get more established at this practice, start looking for other places in your life to bring in gratitude – go around the dinner table and ask what everyone is grateful for; use some of your traveling time to review the good things in your life, when you are bored or waiting for something, instead of checking your phone, look around for something to appreciate.
So kick off your gratitude practice right now, you’ll be pleasantly surprises – Spend a few minutes (never more than 5) writing down your three gratitude’s. Book a time in your daily routine to do this for at least the next 30 days.
See how it goes & let me know!