How do I Practice Gratitude?

What is gratitude? To me, gratitude is consistent state of feeling contentment, even after having a rough day or knowing that some things are hard and parts of the body ache from a stressful week. Gratitude for me is about feeling calm and knowing things will eventually be okay when going through a rough patch.

I wanted to write this to talk a little bit about the science behind practicing gratitude and ways I practice gratitude in my everyday life. I've learned that gratitude has become the one cornerstone on which the support and affirmation I need in my everyday live is based on. It's taken me a few years of practice to get here and I hope this post brings a little bit of support and relevancy to your current life 🙏 📿

Let’s first talk a little bit about why we feel ungrateful.

Maybe, it’s because we believe that gratitude can only be felt on momentous occasions, like when you lose those 15lbs you’ve been wanting or you get a promotion and a big raise at work. But, with science and research, we have learned that by being grateful for the smaller things, keeping a gratitude journal - writing down brief selections on moments you’re thankful for - can lead to a significant increase in well-being and life satisfying. (UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, studied over a 1,000 people from ages 8-80). Being grateful isn’t only reserved for those big moments.

Research has found that people who practice gratitude for around 3 weeks reported a host of positive benefits including:

  • Stronger immune systems

  • Less bothered by aches and pains

  • More alert, alive, and awake

  • More joy and pleasure

  • More forgiving

  • More outgoing

  • Feel less lonely and isolated

Ways to practice gratitude:

  1. Know that it takes practice. Be patient with yourself. The more you do it, the easier it’ll get. There were times I forced myself to wake up early in the morning so I could ‘practice’ and it made me miserable. I was sleepy and unfocused. To know that I now had to sit here and focus on things that made me feel grateful felt like such a task. So, I switched it up. I now sit in bed before going to sleep at night and write. Even if it’s for 2 mins jotting down a few things I feel good about and am grateful for on that day. It calms me and even on a bad day, it centers me. An added bonus to doing this is that I go to bed feeling more relaxed and able to fall/stay asleep throughout the night!

  2. Keep a gratitude journal. By actively writing down positive things that are happening to you, you’re training your mind subconsciously to look at the good in every situation. You eventually start to recognize the good in your life or recognize the positive in a bad situation, which naturally helps you feel more grateful and thankful. If it's easier, ask yourself simple questions like "what about today was better than yesterday?", "What's one aspect of your life that is going well?", "what made you smile or laugh today?"

  3. Write thank-you notes. This means to acknowledge the people who are helping you, the things that are getting you through. For me, I have written down things like nature and sunshine when I go on a walk.

It’s all about cultivating that attitude of gratitude. When we are able to be grateful, we get this power to put things into perspective, know that better things are just around the corner and that we’re worthy of all the good things coming our way.

It’s a practice for everyone. Often happiest humans are those who have the least bc they don’t have the luxury to take anything for granted.

Think about that one.

Enjoyed this? Come join the Mental Wellbeing Space in Diem, download here.