A Guide to Gratitude
“The root of joy is gratefulness…
It is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
- David Steindl-Rast
Giving thanks isn't just reserved for the fourth Thursday in November anymore. Gratitude should be a part of your daily life. This goes beyond being grateful when you receive a job promotion or a thoughtful gift from a friend; it's about being grateful for the here and now.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are endless.
There are physical benefits - people who regularly practice gratitude tend to sleep better, have a stronger immune system, and report less pain.
There are emotional benefits - As David Steindl-Rast says, gratitude is the recipe for happiness. Regularly noticing and reflecting upon things you're thankful for creates a positive cycle of fostering joy and connection with the people and things around you.
We've all experienced gratitude at one point in our lives, so what's the difference between experiencing gratitude and practicing gratitude?
We're not hardwired to be grateful all the time. In moments when we're down, we often don't think to appreciate the positive forces surrounding us. In moments when we are grateful, it's easy to move on to other emotions leaving gratitude by the wayside. It's a matter of creating the habit.
Here are some ways that you can begin practicing gratitude in your own life:
Keep a gratitude journal. Write down one or more thing you're grateful for on a daily basis.
Give at least one compliment daily, either to a person or by sharing your appreciation about something. Ex. "We've had really incredible weather this week."
Sound genuinely happy to speak to someone. They'll feel valued, and you'll be speaking from a place of positivity.
Vow not to gossip, criticize, or complain for a day. You'll notice how much time you spend on negative thoughts.
When someone pays you a compliment, tell them how much you appreciate it rather than deflecting it.
Send a letter or email to someone you are grateful to have in your life.
Create your own prompts. On a calendar or planner, write different prompts for every day of the upcoming week and complete it as the week goes on. "I am grateful for (ex. these smells/this person/this teacher/this yellow thing)..."
Give thanks before every meal.
Join or donate to a cause that's important to you.
Turn a negative perspective into a positive one. If you get aggravated by the morning traffic, appreciate the time spent alone or with others in your car.
[For my fellow trichsters]: Trichotillomania Gratitude Jar. Write down one reason you're grateful for your trichotillomania every week and put it in a jar.
Regardless of whether or not you experience trichotillomania or any other mental disorder, gratitude should be a part of your practice. It's all about living a happier and more fulfilled life.
There are more resources available as you begin your journey with gratitude. Check out some of the links below for more examples of daily practices. Share some of your own gratitude practices in the comments section.
I want to thank you for reading this week's blog.