Grateful living is important in the world because in our constant pursuit of more and better we can easily lose sight of the riches that lay right in front of us and within us.
– Guri Mehta
Grateful living or expressing gratitude, is a way of life which asks us to notice all that is already present and abundant in our lives from the tiniest thing of beauty to the grandest of our blessings and, in doing so, to take absolutely nothing for granted.
Life is a gift.
Even in the most challenging of times, and we all know those, don’t we? gratitude or living gratefully, makes us acutely aware of, and available to, the opportunities to learn, to grow and to extend ourselves to others with love and compassion.
But, here’s the thing, people are not naturally hardwired to see the positive in situations, especially if that situation brings up fear and creates obstacles. Yet this is the very best time to be grateful. Not for the obstacle or situation that is causing us fear, but for everything else in our lives that is going right!
Easier said than done I hear that niggling inner critic whispering and so, like many skills worth having, gratitude needs to be practiced, taken seriously and developed over time. It can literally, have life-changing benefits.
A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10%
***More people will like you
as it makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends and deepen existing relationships.
***You will be healthier.
Keeping a gratitude journal Counting Blessings vs Burdens (2003), a study conducted on evaluating the effect of gratitude on physical well-being, indicated that 16% of the patients who kept a gratitude journal reported reduced pain symptoms. Looking into the cause revealed that by regulating the level of dopamine in our brains, gratitude increases vitality and reduces feelings of pain.
***You will be more optimistic and more resilient.
Resilience isn’t about pushing through regardless, seizing control or carrying on despite how you feel; it’s about developing strategies that help you manage when facing situations you find stressful. and of course, we are all different.
You may be someone who can carry on without a second thought, or perhaps you find quite minor difficulties hugely overwhelming. Resilience is responding well to difficult situations.
Think of resilience as your ability to cope with, or recover from, stressful or traumatic experiences.
***You will have greater self-esteem and increased energy levels and it emboldens you to reach for your goals.
Your brain floods with reward chemicals, symptoms of anxiety and depression may lessen, and your hypothalamus works better. You feel like a winner and champion and nothing can stop you.
***Your emotions will be stronger and more positive.
People who have plenty of positive emotions in their everyday lives tend to be happier, healthier, learn better, and get along well with others. Being an optimist is more than looking on the bright side. It’s a way of viewing the world where you minimize your weaknesses and setbacks whilst maximizing your strengths and accomplishments.
***You will be more resilient to stress.
There’s no medical definition of stress, and health care professionals often disagree over whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them. Whatever you feel is causing stress can be lessened by an increase in your resilience.
It’s all great news I hear you cry so what can we do to bring gratitude and grateful living into our lives?
One of the simplest ways is to write a daily gratitude journal in which you savour what you are truly grateful for. Write consistently, and write freely; don’t sweat the grammar and spelling as this journal is for your eyes only. Don’t think of writing your journal as yet another self-development project on your to-do to improve list. Just write and remember;
It is a way to focus on what and who you have in your life and appreciate.
Another simple way, and a fabulous way of encouraging children or teens to develop a gratitude practice, is to make a gratitude jar.
Take a recycled jar with a lid and have fun decorating it with stickers, pretty papers, positive quotes, ribbons or whatever you want then keep it visible. Every day write a note of what you are grateful for, fold it and put it in the jar. It is a fun and super bonding activity to take out the notes on New Year’s Eve and read out or share all the little gratitude notes. my kids and I have been doing this for years and look forward to sharing all our little notes as a family ritual.
Finally…the science stuff!
Gratitude has such a powerful impact on your life because it engages the brain in a virtuous cycle. A brain only has so much power to focus its attention and cannot easily focus on the negative at the same time as the positive.
Just like a small child or puppy, it gets easily distracted. Dopamine reinforces the cycle so when you start to find things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for………et voila!
No excuses my lovelies!
Find a notebook to become your new best friend of a gratitude journal or wash up that finished jam jar and make your gratitude jar.