We all know that it’s good to be grateful.
From a young age, we’re all taught to say thank you and show appreciation, especially when receiving a gift or a token of kindness.
But despite knowing we should be thankful, it’s easy to get caught up with daily life and forget about all that you have to be grateful for.
Practicing mindfulness helps to connect us with this profound sense of appreciation. The benefits of being thankful will not only improve your social manners but offer incredible value to your health, wellness, relationships, and overall life satisfaction.
Explore the richness of living a thankful life by becoming more grateful through mindful practice.
What is gratitude?
“Gratitude is an acknowledgement that we have received something of value from others. It arises from a posture of openness to others, where we are able to gladly recognize their benevolence.”
– Robert Emmons and Anjali Mishra
The word gratitude stems from the Latin gratia which depending on the context means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness.
Since early times, scriptures across the world praised gratitude as a desirable human quality.
Gratitude is a feeling, an attitude, and a lifestyle through which you acknowledge all that you have to be thankful for. To find the value in good experiences as well as those that might challenge you. To feel appreciative for all that you receive whether it’s a physical item or a simple kindness.
Among the many benefits of being grateful is an improved feeling of connectivity. For some, this connection is felt with family, friends, and loved ones. For others, it’s connection with a spiritual or higher self, nature, or the world around them.
Learning how to become more grateful through present moment awareness can help transform your life from feelings of inadequacy to abundance. It can help reduce the frustration of common stressors and help you find enjoyment in the simplest tasks.
Furthermore, expressing gratitude has been found to inspire pro-social behavior and inspire more acts of kindness. Which means by you yourself being grateful, you encourage more positivity in your community.
Learn how to become more grateful through daily meditative practice.
The benefits of practicing gratitude meditation
One of the incredible benefits of gratitude is its protective mechanism against conditions such as depression and anxiety. Research has found that this is partly due because grateful people often have a better relationship with both themselves and with others.
Gratitude helps to develop a mindset of appreciation. Through this practice, you begin to find pleasure in the smallest things in life as well as the courage to tackle big obstacles.
When you’re grateful, even work becomes less daunting. You begin to see that it pays for your food, your clothes, and the finer things that you enjoy.
Additionally, you’ll find it easier to source the energy you need to get things done when you practice gratitude.
Benefits associated with practicing gratitude:
- Helps you make new friends
- Keeps you healthy
- Improves mental health
- Reduces feelings of depression
- Improves sleep
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Helps you cope with challenges and face trauma
- Improves connectivity with others
- Emphasizes good in your life
- Makes you happier
- Improves romantic relationships
- Increased sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction
How can I practice gratitude daily?
The simplest way to practice gratitude is to become more mindful.
Inviting this meditative practice into your day can be both a simple and rewarding exercise. It can be practiced anywhere from the comfort of your bed, your office, your evening commute, or your kitchen.
Take washing the dishes for example. No one likes to wash dishes, I’m guessing you don’t either.
Washing the dishes can feel like an annoying chore, especially if you’re tired. After you’ve just cooked or enjoyed your meal, you likely want to go and relax. It’s unlikely you would rather stand over the sink scraping and scrubbing away food gunk.
Practicing mindfulness helps to transform the task of washing the dishes from a chore into an opportunity to practice gratitude. It begins the moment you see that these plates and this cutlery aren’t only work for you but also vehicles on which your delicious food passes before hitting your lips. You’re washing the dishes so that you can eat good food.
Why practice gratitude daily?
When you cultivate present moment awareness, you begin to see that there are things to be grateful for in each and every experience. You see that these plates that delivered your dinner also provided your body with nourishment. And that each bite brought your taste buds pleasure and enjoyment.
You begin to feel gratitude for having hot water to wash your dishes. For having soap that makes those fluffy cleansing bubbles that keep your dishes clean and you healthy. You’re appreciative of the fact that you’re physically able to do the dishes.
Many things become less annoying and in many cases, less stressful when you take the opportunity to acknowledge the benefit they bring into your life.
Practicing gratitude requires taking a holistic view of life. It means that you find appreciation for not only the good experiences, but the bad ones as well. Furthermore, it’s a great meditative practice to help recalibrate your mental landscape and rescue yourself from any destructive thinking that might have tried to sabotage your happiness.
Is it hard to be grateful?
One of the challenges with practicing gratitude is that there are many sources of distraction clouding your appreciation. Images from the media, popular culture, advertising, can make you feel like you aren’t worthy or need something more in order to be happy and successful. The very fact that you’re living in a consumer world challenges you every day to find reasons to be thankful.
It’s easy to see flaws or scarcity. It’s easy to see what’s wrong or not good enough. It’s easy to see what we’re lacking, to feel entitled, to take things for granted.
It’s much more difficult to see good intentions through failed delivery. To feel like you live in abundance when you’re always wanting more. To see that all of your accomplishments have been made possible through the help of others and that not all credit is fully yours.
Gratitude needs to be cultivated.
Simple gratitude practices
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined how grateful attitudes affected psychological and social well-being on individuals. Their research found that people who maintained a weekly gratitude journal felt better about their lives as a whole compared to those who documented neutral or frustrating experiences. Furthermore, those who maintained gratitude journals went to the gym more often, expressed fewer physical ailments, and were more optimistic for the upcoming week.
Daily gratitude list and reflective writing
A great way to keep track of all you have to be grateful for is to write a daily list. These lists don’t have to be exhaustive or follow any particular format if you don’t want them to. They can be as simple as a numbered list in which you count your blessings or some scribbled down notes on things that stood out to you today.
The great thing about gratitude lists, journals, or letters is that you can write them however you feel is best. If one day you choose to write notes on your phone reflecting on the day or a particular experience, that’s great. If tomorrow you feel like a proper journal entry is warranted, that’s fine too.
A simple way to express gratitude is to write down a list. Some people like to use this technique as a way to count their blessings. A great way to do this is to write down numbers on a page (perhaps 1 to 10, or 1 to 20) and list off the top things that you are most appreciative of.
Connect with your intuition and write down anything that comes to mind. It can be something as simple as having hot water to shower in this morning, to having a great family, to really enjoying a walk outside. Even negative experiences can find their way on your list as tools and teachers for your mindful practice.
Many people enjoy having a designated gratitude journal to write in. You can use a gratitude journal as part of your regular meditation to document self-reflection. Write in your journal at a designated time each day or whenever you feel inspiration to do so.
Morning gratitude entries can help you set out an intention for the day and align yourself with a positive outlook. Evening reflections are a great way to process the events of the day unwind before bed. End of week entries are also beneficial as they help you reflect on the days that have passed and develop a more optimistic outlook for the days ahead.
Gratitude letters are another effective way to both cultivate and share your appreciation. Whenever you’re feeling inspired, take the opportunity to write a letter thanking another person. It could be for a family member, a loved one, or a complete stranger.
Regardless if you decide to keep or send the letter, it really doesn’t matter. For you, the benefit of the exercise is to reflect and articulate your gratitude. However, if you do share your letter, it will likely inspire even more gratitude and appreciation!
7 Simple gratitude practices
To get you started in your mindful journey towards becoming more grateful, we have put together a series of 7 simple gratitude practices for you to try.
1. Be thankful for what you already have
Because of our consumer lifestyle, it is easy to become addicted to accumulating “things”. As a result, we have grown accustomed to fast turnovers and quick replacements for everything we own and never really make time to develop an appreciation for our stuff. Whether it’s your clothing, electronic gadgets, or household items, learn to start taking better care of your possessions. Buy less so that you can afford to invest in better quality and more sustainable items. The moment you start to appreciate what you have, you will become less focused on wanting more.
2. Practice the art of “thank you”
Make saying “thank you” part of your daily practice. Instead of just responding to people with an automatic “thanks” wherever you go, feel gratitude within your heart when you say it.
If someone does something kind for you, thank them!
It will make them more likely to do this kind of thing in the future, and it will make you feel good too. Start to take notice of even the smallest tokens of kindness and generosity you experience throughout your day. Even if it isn’t appropriate at the time to say the words out loud, say thank you quietly within yourself.
Some people go out of their way to do something for you. Whether they went out on a limb to give you a recommendation, spent time or money, they gave up something of value for you.
Acknowledge their good intentions. You’re much more likely to get kindness to catch on in your community when you truly take the time to notice those who are expressing it.
3. Take care of yourself
Practicing self-love and care helps to develop a healthy relationship with your mind, body, and soul. It encourages you to become more nurturing towards yourself, and learn when to take on new adventures, as well as when to rest and recover. The best way to demonstrate gratitude is to start by taking care of yourself and committing to a lifestyle that fosters well-being.
4. Be generous with your time
As we get caught up in work and life commitments, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed with overflowing schedules. Start to set aside time to spend with the people you love. You don’t have to go out or do anything extravagant, just simply be there with them. Be present and offer your full attention to the people who mean the most to you. They will feel much more appreciated and you more grateful for their company.
5. Resist the urge to find faults
Instead of focusing on what’s wrong or imperfect about something or a situation, look for what is good. Even in the most unpleasant circumstances, search out the simple things that are beautiful, that make you smile. When you make it your mission to find the good in everything and resist the urge to find fault, you will experience a much more rewarding and abundant life.
6. Keep a gratitude journal
A good way to maintain a gratitude practice is to keep a journal or list of the things you are thankful for. You can have a book set aside just for this exercise or even a notepad on your phone or computer if that’s more convenient. Try to designate a few minutes each day to reflect upon what has brought you joy in the past 24-hours. It can be as simple as listing 5 things, or as in depth as a full journal entry. Make it a habit by practicing each day around the same time like upon waking or before bed.
7. Be kind
Part of being grateful means that we take notice for all the things that people do for us. Whether it’s your friends and family or complete strangers, treat all people with kindness. Kindness is not only beneficial for the receiver, but also increases feelings of love, joy, and belonging for the giver. The more kindness we share, the more kindness we receive.
In conclusion, living mindfully can help you unlock the many benefits gratitude has to offer you. Whether for your health, wellness, relationships, or overall life satisfaction, there is much to be gained by learning to be appreciative.
Try our simple gratitude practices for inspiration as you explore the richness of thankful living.
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