There is a wealth of research and theories surrounding the practice of gratitude. So let's examine what it is, what it can do for you, and how you can be more grateful today.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is a tricky word that has escaped a clear definition in the past – is it a feeling, a thought process, an action or something else?
Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, puts it in a nutshell: Gratitude is an affirmation of the kindness that exists outside of ourselves. It is the action to realize that life is not just bad. Hopefully there is at least one good thing in your life right now, even if it feels tiny.
For example, I'm grateful this morning that the sun is shining and I did not have to wait too long on the crosswalk in front of my apartment. To practice the act of gratitude is to train oneself to look for one (or more) good things, and to be happy that it is in your life.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
To practice gratitude sounds a bit washed out, right? In fact, it turns out that it has a proven impact on your social relationships, your attitude to life and your personal well-being.
Studies have shown that gratitude exercises help provide more emotional support and help to those in need. A study of monitoring brain activity with an fMRI showed that the medial prefrontal cortex, a gratifying brain region, had increased neuronal sensitivity three months after gratitude training.
These findings can be explained, in part, by the simple theory that gratitude changes our way of life. As we practice searching for blessings in our lives, we find them more often. We perceive that human beings are indeed friendly, helpful, and good natures, and in return we do the same by returning those blessings to the people around us.
Gratitude also affects two major areas of well-being: – sleep and. The list goes on – practicing gratitude involves less worrying about strengthening your resilience to and . It is hard to prove a causal connection with gratitude, but this study suggests a strong connection between gratitude and spiritual well-being. You also make a conscious effort to say "thank you" every time someone does something nice for you, there are different ways to get creative to add gratitude to your everyday life. Look below for five ways to practice gratitude.
. 1 Gratitude Diary Lead
Writing down a list of things you're grateful for may be the most obvious method, but it's a proven one. Find a frequency that suits you, whether you write one thing a day or five things at the end of the week. The key is to make them as specific as possible – I could write down every day that I'm grateful for my cat, but it's better to note that she slept on my bed one night while my feet were cold.
If you do not like putting pen on paper, there are a number of apps that you can download for free to help. Gratitude is not just a simple Notes app, but also a great option for a user-friendly journal on your phone. Allows you to attach pictures, sync with Google Drive, and set reminders for your daily gratitude exercise.
. 2 Use a gratitude glass
A gratitude glass is simple – all you need is an old mason jar and scraps of paper to describe. Every time something happens that you are grateful for, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the glass. After one year or when your glass is full, you can look back on many beautiful memories with your loved ones.
. 3 Document your life
Remember the 1 second video diary app? It's a clever way to practice gratitude. Every day, film one second of something that has made you grateful, and at the end of the year, you have a collection of happy moments that remind you that sometimes life can be pretty good.
. 4 Meditation
We typically consideras a mindfulness practice in which we try to focus on the present moment and not think about anything, but that only grazes the surface of the intricate tradition of meditation. Another type of ancient art involves meditating on specific ideas or feelings, including gratitude. This exercise kills two birds with one stone – you get all the proven benefits of gratitude and meditation at the same time.
There are many free guided gratitude meditations online, and some paid apps like Headspace also offer sessions that focus on gratitude.
5. Practicing gratitude in the community
Do not you just love social media? For some of us, all of the above gratitude exercises sound dreadfully boring, and we'd rather spend that extra time tapping our cell phones. The Gratitude Circle app provides an entertaining solution to this problem by combining a Facebook-style community with a gratitude practice.
You can find friends online, moments you were grateful for, post with attached pictures, and scroll through your feed to see the gratitude of everyone else. In this way, you will receive your gratitude without having to forego valuable social media time.