Gratitude is more than the act of being thankful; it’s a readiness to show appreciation and return kindness. It’s a mindset of it’s own, a lifestyle, a personality trait, an emotion. Gratitude is a complex concept with deep roots.
Being grateful and intentionally practicing gratitude have been a foundation in many – or all??- cultures across the history of humankind. The benefits have been, and continue to be, studied by philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. It’s a core value is many religions from Islam, to Buddhism, to Christianity.
So what’s the big deal and why exactly do we need to practice gratitude?
According to PositivePsychology, gratitude can “improve physical and psychological health… enhance empathy… improve sleep… enhance self-esteem.. and help you make friends.” I’ve also seen that gratitude can improve your optimism, enhance well being and lead to an overall better life.
In another article, PositivePsychology had this to say about gratitude and the brain function: “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m part of the 10% of Americans who’ve been on anti-depressants to get those precious neurotransmitters working for me. Well, are you ready to dig in and catch an attitude of gratitude?
3 Practices for a Deeper Gratitude
Practicing daily is the #1 way to build the habit. We see what we look for. Starting you day by looking for things to be grateful for will lead to finding more throughout the day. Focus on blessings over burdens and see your perspective reshape.
Write out 3 things you are grateful for each morning. Try to think back on these things over the day.
“Just one positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”Dalai Lama
You’ve heard of manifesting and scripting? This journal practice is a little similar to those. In scripting, you write out all the things that you want to have but you write it in present tense as if you’ve already got it. ]
Write out all the things you wish to be grateful for. Journal out the things (or characteristics, experiences, etc.) that you want to have, but write in present tense that you are already grateful for these. After all, you are already that woman who is going to set the world on fire and have all your dreams come true, act like it. Be thankful for where you are AND where you’re going.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”Philippians 4:6
Grounding in Gratitude
Have you ever wondered why jewelry salespeople always show diamonds on a black mat? It’s because the diamond shines brighter against the black backdrop. Same as how your phone’s flashlight is useless unless you’re in a very dark room. Light shines brighter in darkness, roses stand tall among the thorns.
Put your gratitude against a black backdrop. This is an exercise I originally learned from a story on Allie Casazza’s Instagram.
Around you are 10 things to be grateful for, list those out. Next, go through this list one by one and imagine what your life would really look like without each thing listed. Really sit with the feelings.
Now that we’ve thought what it would be like to be without, think of all the ways your life is better because of what’s listed before you. Think on all the peace, ease, love, and joy these things bring to you. Choose to hold on the view of the blessings over the burdens.
“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”Psalm 71:14