Let’s face it; sometimes, you feel like you are just going through the motions without genuinely enjoying yourself. Each monotonous day blends into the next. You’re stuck in a rut as days become weeks, and then eventually, months and years. Life is passing you by, and you don’t know how to create a better situation for yourself.
So great. How do you change it?
Today’s blog topic is so simple that it may create certain doubts; however, please know that it is entirely life-changing!
The true secret to having more fulfillment in your life is drum roll…
As this week celebrates American Thanksgiving, gratitude is top of mind.
Being thankful has the power to improve the quality of your life in many surprising ways.
But first, what is gratitude anyway?
We all know commonplace expressions like “practice gratitude” and “attitude of gratitude”; however, what does this really mean, and why is this important?
Simply put, gratitude is an appreciation of your own life experience.
Focusing on the positive aspects of your life is the foundation for feelings of abundance and well-being.
Gratitude is, therefore, an essential source of happiness, and having a gratitude practice can create an overall more positive everyday experience.
You are probably asking yourself, how can something so simple do all of that?
Scientifically, this tiny shift creates many unexpected outstanding benefits. Below are seven of the many benefits a gratitude practice can bring.
1. Improves psychological health:
Gratitude effectively increases happiness and decreases depression by reducing many toxic emotions, including envy, resentment, frustration, and regret.
2. Make friends:
Saying “thank you” to new acquaintances makes them more likely to seek a lasting relationship. Simple gestures such as a thank you note or a “thanks for holding the door!” can certainly go a long way.
3. Improves physical health:
Grateful people report fewer aches and pains, feel healthier overall, and are more likely to care for their health.
4. Improves self-esteem:
Being thankful reduces your social comparisons while increasing your appreciation of other people’s accomplishments. In turn, it boosts your self-esteem.
5. Enhances empathy while reducing aggression:
Gratitude improves sensitivity and compassion toward others and decreases a desire to seek revenge.
6. Increases mental strength:
Don’t you want to have improved mental fitness?
Gratitude reduces stress, resilience and helps overcome trauma.
7. Improves sleep:
Spending fifteen minutes writing gratitude statements before bed helps you sleep better and longer.
Let’s get writing!
Wow. So, how is all of this possible? Just having appreciation creates all of these benefits?
Let me illustrate the power of our attention.
Imagine it’s Monday morning, and you are in bed. Your blaring alarm clock shakes you from a restless night’s sleep. After hitting snooze several times, you begrudgingly get out of bed to get ready for work. Exhausted, you open the kitchen cabinet only to find you forgot to pick up the coffee yesterday. “Sh*t! Why do I have to go out.”
You throw on your coat, go outside, and as you walk to the store, it starts pouring rain when a cold gust of wind turns your umbrella inside out. A car drives through a puddle, mud splashing.
This day couldn’t be worse.
There is a barrage of endless negative thoughts. “I am so stupid. How could I forget to buy coffee? I am soaking wet, cold, and miserable.”
Suddenly, a wet, muddy dog rushes towards you, leaps up, and sinks his teeth into your leg. Your miserable experience keeps expanding until it is unbearable. It is the worst day ever.
Okay, yeah. That sounds terrible. So what’s an alternative?
Take a deep breath. It’s groundhogs day – wait, kidding, wrong holiday!
Now, imagine that you wake up on that same Monday morning feeling ready to greet the day. You take a big stretch, enjoying the comforts of your bed.
Upon heading to the kitchen, you realize you are out of coffee.
As you glance out the window, feeling exhilarated as it is raining, and you cannot wait to try out your brand new raincoat!
Once outside, you feel the light, cool raindrops on your face. You appreciate that the weather is so beautiful and calming. Smiling, you are pleased as you remain warm and toasty inside your new coat.
Suddenly, an exuberant puppy gallops towards you. As he jumps up to lick your face, you laugh as mud splashes all around you.
The apologetic owner offers to buy you a cup of coffee, and so you both duck into a shop nearby, grab a coffee to warm up together – and you now have two new friends.
See, our attitude is everything.
There is a distinct difference between the two experiences illustrated. When you focus on the negative aspects of your life, the harmful elements gain more momentum. Conversely, when you focus on your life’s positive and appreciative moments, you feel more positive overall.
Concentrating on what you are thankful for allows you to see the good within your day, even during challenging situations.
So, where are you focusing?
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Where we place our attention becomes how we feel. By practicing gratitude, we can drastically improve our life experience as a whole.
7 Day Gratitude Challenge:
Over the next seven days, I invite you to a 7 Day Gratitude Challenge!
I promise this will change your life if you do at least one of these each day.
1. Wake up with gratitude:
As soon as you wake up, take a big stretch. Notice and be grateful for how good that feels.
Be thankful for your good night’s sleep, notice how wonderful you feel, be grateful for your pillow, the comfort of your sheets.
Be intentionally thankful for the warmth of your home, your surroundings, and even that you woke up blessed.
Each day, write down 3-5 things you feel grateful for.
You can keep a Gratitude Journal or even jot it down on a sheet of paper somewhere.
You can also use these questions for guidance:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What made me smile today?
- What is the best thing that happened today?
Keep it Simple: Intentionally notice small things that you love around you. How good the warmth of your coffee mug feels in your hands, how lucky you are that you have beautiful flowers blooming in your window, how grateful you are that your family is healthy.
3. Gratitude Meditation Walk:
Walking increases endorphins that decrease stress and improve overall health.
Goal: Take a walk. Be present to observe the things you have all around you as you walk. Take it all in.
Admire details in nature such as the sounds the birds make, the smells and colors around you. Notice how your feet feel as you take each step onto the ground. Be aware and appreciate each moment.
4. Say Thank you!
Write a thank-you note each day to someone who inspires you, or you want to thank.
Handwritten is a great touch, but any thank you will do!
Writing this letter will boost both your gratefulness and your relationship with them.
5. Gratitude Affirmations:
If you struggle to find reasons to be thankful, affirmations can sometimes be an easier way to start.
Reciting affirmations may help your mind naturally shift to a positive mindset where you can more easily practice other forms of gratitude. Focus on an affirmation below or one of your choosing that resonates with you.
- My gratitude is opening the door for more blessings.
- My life is filled with abundance and goodness.
- The universe supports me and all of my desires.
- I am grateful to my healthy body.
- I am thankful for simply being alive.
- I experience gratitude for everything I have in my life.
- I am blessed.
- I experience the beauty in nature that surrounds me.
By intentionally focusing on what you appreciate in your experience, you will create a more prosperous, rewarding life overall.
Gratitude has enormous benefits, including improving psychological health, making friends, improving self-esteem, enhancing empathy, reducing aggression, increasing mental strength, and even improving your sleep.
This small intentional act will completely change your life for the better.
So how will you choose to practice gratitude over the next seven days?
Let me know by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can respond personally.
I would love to hear from you!
Thank you for reading and please know, I appreciate you!