In the month of Thanksgiving, we are thinking about gratitude really means. A word often heard and used, but one that imbues such nuanced deep meaning. The understanding it holds might be personal and different for each person. For us, the transformational power behind this virtue of thanks is perfectly defined by American author Melody Beattie,
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
More than forming the words ‘thank you’, gratitude is a mind-set and a sense of being. A fresh lens through which to see the world, one where we can appreciate life’s beauty in it’s full and become the best version of ourselves.
We know too well how easy it can be to get swept into the fast lane, slipping into a mode of automation that numbs us to the small wonders of life, and dulls the appreciation of what surrounds you. Gratitude is a practice of becoming present. Through practicing gratitude we can awaken to the world around us, and appreciating what we have, instead of what we lack.
Yes, gratitude is the secret key to the joie de vivre we are all searching for.
Studies in the numbers are showing how practicing gratitude can not only increase one’s happiness but also improve overall health and wellbeing. Expressing or receiving gratitude is proven to release dopamine, creating positive connections in the brain and a happier mood. According to researchers at Indiana University, a regular practice of fostering gratitude has benefits that include the following:
Gratitude disconnects us from toxic negative emotions
Expressing gratitude has benefits even if not explicitly shared with others
Positive effects of gratitude practice take several weeks or months to show
Gratitude practice has lasting effects on the brain
So, how do you develop a gratitude practice?
Developing gratitude is called a practice for a reason. As with all practice in life, regularity and consistency are what make new behaviour patterns stick. Want to make gratitude a habit? They say it takes 21 days to forge the cognitive connections to form a new habit. Yes, only 21 days! We feel a challenge calling…
Here are our 7 simple techniques for making gratitude a habit for a lifetime. A life of gratitude is a life lived to the full. So what are you waiting for?
7 Simple Gratitude Practices for Everyday
1. Practice daily Gratefulness Meditation
A great practice to do at the end of each day, daily reflections give you a chance to recognise the small things that you might have otherwise missed – a kind gesture from a colleague, or an act of kindness from a stranger in the street. We like to light one of our favourite candles to help unwind the mind and open awareness before finding a quiet seat and gently closing our eyes. As you begin to recollect your day, think through five to six things you have been truly grateful for. As you picture each thing, sit with the feelings of gratitude that arise in your body.
2. Write a Gratitude Journal
This is where you can record all positive thoughts and things you are thankful for. We recommend to journal everyday, or on a regular weekly schedule. A good time is after your Gratefulness Meditation, where you can take note of everything that came up for you. For each entry, write down three to five things you are grateful for. It could be an event that occurred that day, a person in your life or a quality you posses.
3. Do an act of kindness each day
Have you ever received an act of kindness from a total stranger that really touched you? According to Bob Kerrey, “unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent for human change.” Kindness has a palpable energy that can spreads to others. As small a gesture as a smile or holding the door can change someone’s day, so why not do it more?
4. Write more hand-written thank you notes
Putting pen to paper can convey so much more than spoken words. Studies have shown that writing gratitude letters put the author and receiver in more positive spirits, increasing good feelings between the two parties. Keep cards on hand for whenever inspiration to write a note of gratitude strikes.
5. See positivity in every situation
Whenever negative emotions arise, through an unfavourable situation or irritation at another person, stop and ask yourself, ‘what is the positive side of this?’ When we flip the coin of negativity, the other side is always positive.
6. Volunteer more
For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have also shown that volunteering increases our own wellbeing. In other words: helping others helps you!
7. Appreciate everything
The habit of being grateful starts with becoming aware of everything in your life, appreciating every good thing and recognising that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Even the seemingly negative has a positive light when we bring gratitude into focus.
If you want to take part in our Gratitude Challenge read ahead! Choose three or more Gratitude Practices to implement in your daily life and continue them every day for 21 days. Remember to be consistent, regular and focussed. At the end of the three weeks ask yourself: do I feel any different? Has my behaviour changed? How has my attitude towards others been? Has anything happened out of the ordinary? Did you face any difficult hurdles, and did you handle them any differently to usual?
Good luck! And let us know how your new habit of gratitude goes.