The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.
While we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it can still be difficult to sustain. We’re trained to notice what’s broken, undone or lacking in our lives. For gratitude to meet its full healing potential, we need a new perspective. Sustained repetition will help these healthy new behaviors become healthy new habits.
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
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 put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude creates balance and instills hope.
There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?
Some 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. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think gratefully.
- Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
- When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
- Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, give thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur. You will be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work. And that gratitude will foster Flow—an effort-less, stress-less, joy-filled existence based in Who you are Being NOT What you are Doing.