Staying grateful amidst a pandemic can be challenging. The uncertainty adds up to the anxiety and stress of the consequences of Covid. However, research shows showing gratitude can help you balance the stress and make you happy. Be grateful! We often have heard people saying this to us whenever life throws a challenge. For so long, I believed it to be a bluff that people generally say under challenging times. Only when I started to practice gratitude and writing a journal a year ago, I realized the power of being grateful is undeniable. Showing appreciation and being thankful for what you have genuinely does positively change your mind and benefits you in the long run.
What Is The Science Behind Gratitude Practice?
First, let’s understand what “Gratitude” means. Gratitude is nothing but acknowledging all the good things or events that may have happened in your life till this moment. It can be feeling thankful towards things, friends, families, jobs, or anything in general.
Gratitude is not just a cultural belief to achieve happiness.
Several studies have supported the fact that being grateful makes you happier and more generous. The science of gratitude can be deep-rooted in our brains and DNA, including child development.
In positive psychology research and studies, consistent gratitude is broadly associated with a higher level of happiness. It helps people feel happier and cherish the beautiful moments, which imbibes them with positive emotions.
The science behind gratitude is an exciting subject to discuss. When you express gratitude, your brain releases feel-good hormones, i.e. Dopamine and Serotonin.
These two hormones affect the way we feel within ourselves. When there’s a release of these happy hormones, they make you feel good and content about your surrounding.
Be Grateful, Not Hateful
Isn’t it human nature to be jealous and envious of other people’s life, success, achievements, and the things they possess? But an attitude of gratitude is what it takes to reverse the effects of jealousy.
When I met a group of like-minded people, I found that they were big believers in the healing powers of a simple ‘Thank You.’ If we are grateful for everything –big or small in our life, our actions have a positive impact.
Start with baby steps to show gratitude, cultivate a positive outlook on your life, and see where it takes you. Being thankful for what you have, starts with self-reflection.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Gratitude And Appreciation Can Be Life-Changing
Gratitude and appreciation go hand in hand.
It is a mind managing tool that can change how we feel about a certain situation. It also helps to set our goals and achieve them in the right manner.
Appreciate and then be grateful for things around you. For example:
- Your achievements and failures.
- Having a loving family and friends.
- Food on the table and the air you breathe.
Gratitude is the universal theme for our shared experiences as a human being. That tells about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. But why should we be thankful only during that season? Why can’t we be thankful all year long and invite positive vibes into our lives?
Saying “Thank You” is a feeling and not just a phrase.
A cursory thank you is not sufficient, though relatively easy to say! You need to feel and experience being thankful to feel the power of gratitude fully.
So what are the benefits of gratitude practice? Read on to know more!
Benefits Of Gratitude Practice
From improved mental health to help you achieve goals, the habit of practicing gratitude can take you a long way!
1. Better Mental Health
Stress, insecurities, and negative emotions- these all can take a severe toll on your mental health. Gratitude practice is the first step in letting go of these negative emotions and inviting positive ones that make you feel fulfilled.
Studies show that gratitude practice can help you cope with depression, even though it’s recommended to consult a professional if you or someone you know show depressive symptoms.
In the end, you can have daily gratitude practice without an expert’s suggestions as it doesn’t harm you in any way.
2. Shifts Your Mindset
We, humans, are mostly wired in negative thought patterns and work on autopilot.
Gratitude shifts your mindset and helps you experience a positive change on a personal and professional level. When stuck in a rut, you miss out on an opportunity to a great solution.
But the attitude of gratitude opens your eyes, and things start to fall into the right place with a positive outlook.
3. Gratitude At Work Reduces Negativity & Helps Achieve Goals
How many times have you felt not being enough just because you don’t have a better job, perfect body, or better pay?
I’m pretty sure all the time. It’s like this is a deeply rooted habit within our brain, and that’s why we often tend to dwell on those things we do not have.
We need to live now and appreciate the present moment. Be grateful for what we have rather than what we do not. Gratitude practice pushes you to attain your goals, whether it’s personal or professional.
Even large organizations can get benefited from being grateful. The research shows that gratitude at the workplace reduces negative emotions among colleagues and increases employee efficiency.
4. Better Sleep Habits
Have you thought about what your mind does when you take all the stress and tension with you while hitting the sack at night?
You wake up in a bad mood, and the vicious cycle continues. Inculcating a habit of gratitude before sleeping at night helps you have a restful sleep cycle.
According to a sleep study, the result concluded that “Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.”
5. Improves Overall Health
Did you ever notice that the fittest and healthiest people are always happy and express thanks?
Your mind and body are beautifully connected, and whatever thought you have in mind, they affect your body.
For instance, a person with a positive attitude is likely to respond better to healthcare treatment than a cynical person who identifies them as victims. This is similar to what researchers call the “Placebo Effect.”
The power of gratitude is so incredible that it washes away any toxic emotions in you, resulting in better overall health.
How To Practice Gratitude Daily?
Now that you know the benefits and power of gratitude, here’s how you can practice gratitude in your daily life.
1. Expressing Genuine “Thank You.”
When we consciously make the effort of saying “Thank You” every time, it signifies we are thankful from the bottom of our heart, and it makes a significant change in our attitude.
Whenever you wake up in the morning, say, “I am thankful for this day.” This sets a positive mood for the day.
For starters, doing this allows you to look at the positive sides of your life. At the end of the day, having an attitude of gratitude brings great peace of mind.
Write down – What are the 3 things that you are thankful for?
Examples of showing gratitude:
Here are some of the things that one can be thankful for.
- I am thankful for my good health amidst these challenges.
- I am grateful for my family.
- I thank all the doctors and nurses.
- I am thankful for having a roof over my head.
- I have someone to share my feelings with.
- I have a job that pays me well.
- My partner/friends/family support me.
- I am grateful to have my child/children.
- I have dreams and the energy to fulfill them.
2. Affirmation And Visualization is The Window To Happiness
Visualize what you want to achieve. Picture it. Feel it in your entire body. Visualization helps you pursue what you want and attain goals with a motivated mind.
Accepting the present moment and visualization is the first step towards adopting the attitude of gratitude.
There was also research done on how gratitude and our well being go hand in hand. It shows the association between gratitude and well-being. Feeling appreciation tends to encourage positive feelings, which in turn gives an overall sense of well being.
3. Write Down Things You Are Grateful For And Read Gratitude Quotes
For ten weeks, write down everything you are grateful for once a week. It can be more or less than ten. The activity is to make you realize how your attitude changes throughout this time.
You will learn to be conscious of your surroundings. It will bring a positive impact on your health and happiness. When there is no thought of malign, you tend to be happier. This is very much possible if you have an attitude of gratitude.
How About A Gratitude Jar?
Make it a habit to write down what you are grateful for and add it to your gratitude jar.
Here is some gratitude prompts for you to use:
- What am I grateful for in the last 24 hours?
- Name a person for whom you’re grateful.
- What’s the best thing that happened to you in the last week?
- What’s the one good thing that happened to you that you’ll be grateful for forever?
4. Write A Gratitude Letter
Write a gratitude letter to someone even if you can not send it to the person. We often tend to feel guilty for not saying thanks and appreciating others for their impact on our lives. And this traps us in the negative thought pattern, which is a sign of deprived mental health.
Writing a letter helps you come out of that negative thought pattern, and the changes you feel are remarkable.
You can also write a letter to yourself, describing all the amazing things you have done in your life till now. Or write a letter every night before bed, reflecting on what you are grateful for what you have or did today!
5. Stop Complaining And Take Action
Indeed, having an attitude of gratitude can get you things which you once wished for.
We often tend to dwell on those things we do not have. For instance:
- I don’t have a better job.
- I don’t earn enough.
- I am not slim enough.
- I am not beautiful.
- I am not loved enough.
- I got dumped.
All these are just mere complaints.
We need to replace this whining attitude with gratitude.
It is okay to feel bad for getting dumped but look at the silver lining. Didn’t have your best side by your side to support you? Show gratitude to her for being there for you!
Of course, it’s okay to realize you don’t have a better job. Instead of complaining about the fact, why don’t you pull up your sleeves and start acting on the things you wish for?
And appreciate others who are supporting you on your journey. Being grateful for what you have rather than what you don’t can help you with that
8. Surround Yourself With Positive Minded Folks
Gratitude is contagious!
A Word From AlignThoughts,
Gratitude rewires the human brain to focus more on the good side of everything than cribbing about the negative experiences all the time. It is a harmless activity that will only do good to you. Our brains will always ask us to focus on the negatives and live in a constant survival mode. But only when you consciously choose to practice gratitude, you begin to experience its miracles.
What are your thoughts on the power of gratitude? What are you grateful for today? Please share your thoughts with us!
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Key Takeaways On The Power & Benefits Of Gratitude
- Gratitude practice is about acknowledging and appreciating all the good things that have happened till this present moment.
- According to studies, the power of gratitude makes you happier and more generous, and consistent gratitude is broadly associated with a higher level of happiness.
- When you express gratitude, your brain releases feel-good hormones, i.e., Dopamine and Serotonin, which affect the way we feel within ourselves.
- It is a mind managing tool that can change how we feel about a particular situation and make us more resilient.
- Being thankful and showing appreciation also improves mental health.
- Doing daily gratitude practice brings a significant shift in mindset, which leads you to achieve your goals.
- Lastly, sleep studies have shown that gratitude predicted improved sleep quality and sleep duration and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.
Why is gratitude a powerful tool?
The power of gratitude is miraculous because doing it consistently will connect you with yourself and others on a deeper level. And at the same time, you start experiencing better emotions, improved health, and healthy feelings.
How can I actively practice gratitude?
You can feel the benefits of gratitude only if you’re consistent with it. To do this actively, follow these points:
- Make a list of three things you are grateful for today before sleeping.
- Write a gratitude letter to yourself and your close ones.
- List out all the positive traits about yourself.
- Be thankful for the present moment.
When should I practice gratitude?
Anytime is a good time as long as you’re practicing it daily.
I personally suggest you make it a routine before sleeping at night as it helps you reflect on your day and focus on the good events that have happened.
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