What does it really mean when we talk about gratitude? And how does it benefit us in life?
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines gratitude as “a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself.”
Professor Robert Emmons studied over 1,000 people, ranging from 8 to 80 years old, and discovered that those who regularly practice gratitude are happier, more optimistic, and enjoy a greater sense of presence. The best part of gratitude is the joy it brings, making living in the present moment incredibly rewarding.
Pursuing these good vibes might even improve your health!
The positive emotions you experience when savoring life’s little joys could:
- improve heart health
- strengthen your immune system
- reduce pain and stress
- lead to a longer life
Although, practicing gratitude can be easier said than done.
One thing that makes it hard to be genuinely grateful is the societal belief that we need to have more. More money, more stuff, bigger houses, and higher social status…The pursuit of “more” could easily feed the feeling of “not enough.”
When you consciously direct your attention to what you currently have, your mindset transitions from fear to joy. Having an appreciation for the present moment ignites feelings of joy and gratitude. It begins with acknowledging the often overlooked aspects we tend to take for granted, followed by finding avenues to express our gratitude. Finally, it involves taking tangible steps to make gratitude a meaningful practice. Here are some helpful suggestions to develop a sense of appreciation for what you have and relish in the beauty of life's smaller pleasures.
Take time to slow down and breathe
Regulating your breathing is the easiest way to ground you in the moment and relieve stress.
Strive to turn off the ‘comparative mind’
Comparison is the thief of joy. If we compare ourselves to the lives of others, we can quickly lose our appreciation for what we have. If the voice of comparison pops up in your head, ask it to go away by focusing on what you do have, or by focusing on the moment – the smell of the car leather, the taste of your coffee. Sometimes making a list of the things you take for granted helps to focus you in on what you do have.
Start a gratitude jar
Put a clear glass jar or cup on the counter in plain sight. Whenever a negative thought arises, think of a contesting thought. Write it down on a piece of paper and put it into the jar. Then when you’re having a negative or low moment, dig into the jar and pull out a gratitude quote. This act breaks the negative thought process and trains you to refocus on what is good in your life.
Take time to be grateful for the little things in life
Keep a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed write down 5 things you’re grateful for that day. It could be something you achieved at work, a compliment someone gave you, to a person in your life that you feel supported by.
Create a gratitude ritual or mantra to get yourself into a good and positive mind-set which leads to being able to enjoy the little things.
One of the mantras we love here at Nutrient Rescue is from Dr. Carla Marie Manly PhD. "May I ever be filled with gratitude. May I ever be filled with love. May I never take for granted a shared smile or a warm embrace. May I strive to give more than I receive. May I remember to focus on all that I have rather than what is not before me. May I live my days bathed in grateful love.”
Here are some of our favourite gratitude quotes.
Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness.
– David Steindl-Rast
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
– Marcus Aurelius
Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.
– Barry Neil Kaufman