When many of us think of gratitude, we associate it the act of simply saying “thank you” to someone for an act of kindness. However, gratitude is more than just a reaction, or the feeling associated with feeling thankful for something. Instead, it is a positive emotion and a deeper appreciation of someone or something. This deeper relationship with gratitude, of course has a longer lasting effect.
Gratitude is a state of mind that we create when we affirm good in our lives that comes from outside of ourselves or from relishing in small pleasures. We all have those precious blessings in our lives that we are grateful for, but gratitude does not necessarily have to come from our own circumstances.
Practicing gratitude means developing an awareness that allows you to be grateful for things like good health, a delicious meal, a child’s smile, the air that you breathe. It is a deeper appreciation of life in all its moments. This includes negative experiences as well because by practicing gratitude, you become aware and grateful that there is always something to be learned. You choose what to be grateful for and when.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are plentiful. Here are a few:
Expressing your gratitude can improve your overall sense of wellbeing.
Gratitude strengthens interpersonal relationships.
A focus on gratitude can increase optimism by shifting your energy to more positive emotions.
The pursuit of happiness is subjective, but the satisfaction that comes from practicing gratitude has a lasting positive effect. Therefore, the more we practice gratitude, the more positive we feel, thus the happier we are with our lives.
So. how do you enter into this state of mind? Starting a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to get in touch with what makes you feel grateful. To do this, get yourself a journal that is only going to be used for your gratitude journal. This is important because you want this journal to be filled with positive, happy experiences and emotions. It's good to be able to express all of your emotions, so maybe have a secondary journal for all other expressions.
The purpose of the journal is to reflect on your day or week to pull out at least five things you feel grateful for. Before you begin your journaling, make sure you feel sincere about what you are about to write about, and try to focus your energies on both people and intangibles.
Besides highlighting the wonderful things you can be grateful for, this practice has been proven to increase sleep quality, decrease symptoms of sickness, and increase happiness and joy.
Enjoy the journey!