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. So why not give it a go? I can't see any reason not to.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives and the problem often appears bigger than it really is. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a something we say when someone does something nice for us. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit needs to be formed. And that can take some time, it may not be easy to start with, but don't give up.
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. What we don’t have then goes to the back ground.
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 balances us and gives us hope.
There are many things to be grateful for: colourful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, family, butterflies. Doesn’t need to be big. 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 in a grateful way.
- Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your night-time routine.
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
- When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
- Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.
As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfilment is gratitude at work.
I know to some of you this all may sound to weird to bother with and making the time to try it. But trust me it works things well shift in your life for the better.
If you don’t start today to be grateful for all you have and start to notice the positives and those in your life and what is around you, then when a real dilemma or serious health crisis meets you or those you love, how well you cope? Worth considering.