When many of us think of gratitude, we associate it with simply saying “thank you” to someone for an act of kindness. However, gratitude is more than just a reaction or feeling associated with feeling thankful for something. Instead, it is a positive emotion and a deeper appreciation of someone or something. Of course, this more profound relationship with gratitude has a longer-lasting effect.
Gratitude is a state of mind we create when we affirm good in our lives that comes from outside ourselves or from relishing in small pleasures. We all have those precious blessings in our lives that we are grateful for, but gratitude does not necessarily have to come from our circumstances.
Practicing gratitude means developing an awareness that allows you to be grateful for things like sound health, a delicious meal, a child’s smile, and the air you breathe. It is a deeper appreciation of life in all its moments. This also includes negative experiences because by practicing gratitude, you become aware and grateful that there is always something to be learned. You choose what to be thankful for and when.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are plentiful. Here are some of them:
Wellbeing Expressing your gratitude can improve your overall sense of well-being.
Relationships Gratitude strengthens interpersonal relationships.
Optimism Focusing on gratitude can increase optimism by shifting your energy to positive emotions.
Happiness The pursuit of happiness is subjective, but the satisfaction from practicing gratitude has a lasting positive effect. Therefore, the more we practice gratitude, the more positive we feel, thus the happier we are with our lives.
So. how do you enter into this state of mind?
Starting a gratitude journal is a beautiful way to connect with what makes you feel grateful. To do this, get a journal that will only be used for your gratitude journal. This is important because you want this journal filled with positive, happy experiences and emotions. It is good to express your feelings, so maybe have a secondary journal for all other expressions.
The journal's purpose is to reflect on your day or week to pull out at least five things you feel grateful for.
Before you begin your journaling, make sure you feel sincere about what you are about to write about, and try to focus your energies on both people and intangibles. Besides highlighting the beautiful things you can be grateful for, this practice has been proven to increase sleep quality, decrease sickness symptoms, and increase happiness and joy. Enjoy the journey!