“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu
Another confession time: I have long been an advocate of the power of gratitude and the profound effect that it can have on personal wellbeing.
Gratitude and being thankful is an almost universal concept amongst cultures throughout the world. In fact, nearly all of the world’s spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of being appreciative.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude is correlated with positive emotional functioning, social relationships, and overall well-being. Being thankful can also protect against mental health problems and is associated with a lower risk of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and drug abuse.[Source: Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2014 Apr 30;12:63 and J Abnorm Psychol. 2014 Feb;123(1):3-12 ]
Robert Emmons, a leader in the field of gratitude research at the University of California, has conducted extensive studies on gratitude and health. The key message that Dr. Emmons highlights is that the practice of appreciation can significantly increase happiness levels. You can learn more about what is happiness, anyway?
You can even experience pleasant muscle relaxation when recalling situations in which you were grateful. It is apparent that the act of giving thanks can have a remarkable impact on a person’s well-being, and the best thing is that we can tap into this amazing resource any time we like!
An appreciative mind-set can have a very powerful effect on the way we perceive our reality and ultimately, the way we live our lives. By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, we can seek out and attract more positive things into our life to be grateful for.
The important thing about having an attitude of gratitude, however, is the quality of the feeling that accompanies it.
So the power of gratitude and appreciation is nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking the time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie.
How Do You Gratitude Training?
Gratitude training involves strategies that help to develop a sense of appreciation in your life. One of the easiest gratitude exercises to practice is keeping a daily gratitude journal. At the end of each day, record at least one thing you are thankful for that day. You might write down something that inspired you, an event that made you feel good, or an interaction with someone that brought you joy during that day.
A journal is not necessary for a gratitude practice – just be sure to take time out of each day to think about what you are thankful for. Write a thank you note to someone, call up a friend and tell them why you appreciate them, or just take a walk around the neighborhood and try to brainstorm how many things around you have to be thankful for. Questions to ask yourself regularly include:
What am I truly grateful for in my life?
What do I take for granted?
What unique advantages have I been given in life?
What relationships and people am I thankful for?
What have I learned from experiences I initially perceive to be negative?
Why am I lucky to live in the place that I live?
How can I shift my perspective to see things more positively?
My favorite practice is Gratitude yoga, which is a sweet gratitude practice for all