What makes you feel morose or melancholy? Is it a feeling of lacking or wanting something you don’t have? Is there a certain level of discontent in the background of your life? What if you could wipe that away? What if there was a way to bring back your vitality and intensity for life? Would you be willing to try it?
You might have heard of this before but maybe you haven’t. I’m talking about gratitude. This post talks about what you don’t know about gratitude so keep reading!
Gratitude helps us realize what we have and lessens our compulsive craving for wanting more. The ancient Roman philosopher Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” The exercise of gratitude will never fail to strengthen your character and renew your happiness. It is literally impossible to be unhappy when you are in a genuine state of gratitude. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!
Gratitude is being thankful or appreciative of something. This could be people, places, possessions, nature, physical traits, non-physical traits, modern accommodations, opportunities that have come to you, or experiences that you have. Get creative. This could be your parents, siblings, friends, a sunset, your dog, your partner, your job, your car, your house, your phone, running water, electricity, your thick hair, your fast metabolism, your city, the country you live in, your recent vacation, your intelligence, your humor, your people skills, etc. These are just some examples for you. Push the limits of your mind and truly think about all the things you have and are fortunate enough to enjoy on a daily basis.
What you are grateful for and praise, you get more of. Raising your vibration up to a certain level attracts other similar frequencies on the same wavelength. Think of your brain as a big radio tower omitting out the frequencies of that which you want to bring into your life. Thus, an attitude of gratitude is such a powerful practice. It brings about an inner satisfaction. John Milton said it best, “gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
There are countless benefits to practicing gratitude including an increase in empathy, a reduction in aggression, stress, anxiety and depression, a stronger immune system, and lower blood pressure just to name a few.
So how do you “practice” gratitude? It’s pretty simple. I have written my personal list of gratitudes out on paper before and some people have a daily gratitude journal they write in. You can also just say them to yourself or out loud, but it is vital for you to immerse yourself in the emotion of actually being grateful in order for you to get any benefit out of this. You can also express your gratitude to someone directly. When is the last time you told someone that you appreciate them or that you are thankful to have them in your life? I guarantee this will make their day, strengthen your relationship, and you will feel good as well.
I recently started using a gratitude jar. Whenever I was thankful for something I would write it down on a small piece of paper and place the paper in the jar. This method is effective because the jar serves as a constant visible reminder and you can also see progress as the jar fills.
I also incorporate five minutes of gratitude in my morning ritual and I also have a metal sign that reads “GRATITUDE” hanging over my bedroom door that I touch before I leave every morning. As I am touching this sign I say to myself “I am thankful for everything I am, everything I have, and for the abilities to do all that I can.” That’s a phrase I made up that resonated with me. Feel free to come up with your own as well. Just make sure you feel that visceral response in your body when you say it.
I also take five minutes before bed for positive reflection. This is a form of gratitude that lets me look back on my day and realize how lucky I am and that life really isn’t that bad.
If you are new to this concept you might be thinking, “but I don’t have anything to be grateful for or I can’t think of anything.” To combat this, first start by thinking of what you might be taking for granted every day. If you are really feeling down, use perspective and think about how many people would trade places with you right now. Maybe a homeless person, someone with a disability, or someone in a third world country? And if you are really struggling, how about just appreciating the opportunity of knowing what life is?
You have a gratitude muscle that can be exercised and strengthened, and the more of an effort you make to feel gratitude, the more the feeling will come to you automatically in the future. By practicing gratitude you strengthen new neural pathways in your mind. Think of these neural pathways like starting a new walking trail in the brush of your mind. The more times you walk the path, the smoother the path becomes and the easier it is to use.
So how do YOU practice gratitude? Please let us know in the comment section below!