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.
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. For gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We must learn a new way of looking at things, form a new habit. That can take some time.
This is 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.
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: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?
Some Ways to Practice Gratitude
- If you are visual person, make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime 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 it.
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 fulfillment is gratitude at work.
Are you struggling to develop a habit? Let’s talk, I can help.