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The practice of gratitude

Updated: Apr 24

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Our world is often plagued with uncertainty, hardship, and confusion. It would be easy to allow these elements to drag us down and slow our road to personal development. But in this world, one simple practice serves as a beacon for strength, solace, and happiness: gratitude.   

Gratitude is a powerful force that has the ability to transform our lives and the world around us. At its core, gratitude is a positive feeling or awareness arising from the acknowledgement that you have goodness in your life—in spite of the obstacles, hardships, or frustrations you’ve experienced. 

Though it’s often described as a trait or feeling, gratitude can also be a practice—an intentional appreciation of the aspects in your life that you’re most thankful for.

Benefits of gratitude

There are several incredible benefits that can be derived from intentionally practicing gratitude on a daily basis. In fact, one prominent study proved that practicing gratitude and kindness can stimulate constructive clinical changes in people—namely, reducing anxiety increasing optimism, and boosting overall satisfaction with life. 

What’s more, there’s also evidence that practicing gratitude and kindness daily may prevent and alleviate the effects of depression. Gratitude, according to a recent study at the University of Michigan, can also lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate. 

It’s imperative to point out that those on the receiving end of gratitude and acts of kindness—or merely those who witness such practices—also experience benefits similar to those who practice them. 

By simply incorporating gratitude and kindness into your daily routine, you can experience significant improvements in your life—and help improve the lives of those around you.

Tips for practicing gratitude

1. Practice daily

Like all skills or hobbies, gratitude should be practiced intentionally and daily in order to yield its benefits. Consistently investing a few minutes everyday in practicing gratitude can make gratitude a habit—a new way of living.. When we make gratitude a regular part of our lives, we train our minds to focus on the positive aspects of life—even in the midst of challenges and hardships. This shift in perspective can lead to greater resilience, improved mood, and reduced stress levels. 

2. Keep a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal is a simple, yet powerful, tool for fostering gratitude and enhancing well-being. These kinds of journals come in many shapes and forms, but can be used as a point of reflection on the day’s events or key insights into  your present life. Whether it’s answering writing prompts or simply writing down moments you’re most grateful for during the day, keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to practice gratitude mindfully. 

3. Acknowledge the role of others

Gratitude is not just something we can experience within ourselves, but something we can experience from outside ourselves. Simply reflecting on the kindnesses you’ve received from those around you—even small, seemingly insignificant instances of support from others—can have lasting effects on our personal journeys. Take a moment to reflect on and acknowledge the roles others have played in your growth journey.

4. Show appreciation to those around you

Practicing gratitude reaches beyond a few minutes of daily reflection. We can practice gratitude by demonstrating our thanks to those around us through acts of kindness and appreciation. Recall how experiencing or witnessing acts of kindness can allow someone to experience the same mental and physical effects of the practitioner. Now, imagine the kind of impact you could make on others with just a few words of encouragement, praise, or thanks. Think of a few ways you can show gratitude towards people you meet today.

5. Revisit and re-envision past events

Although dwelling in the past is not typically very beneficial, it can help to revisit some pivotal events or moments in our lives-either professional or personal when practicing gratitude By calling to mind these moments and re-envisioning them through the lens of gratitude, we can change our perspective on things that have or might have been, freeing us from feelings of regret or failure that can often plague our past. Take a hard look at where you are, and then take a moment to acknowledge that you likely would not have achieved the milestones you have without those past decisions, experiences,and helping hands. That is the stuff of gratitude. 

Practicing gratitude is cultivating a mindset of abundance, resilience, and optimism that can enrich every aspect of your life and those around you. By taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate what we have and why we have it, we gain a new perspective on life and become our best selves.

If you’re interested in learning more about shifting your perspective, check out our piece ‘Balcony or Basement?

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