Gratitude is one of those things that takes so little time, but offers huge rewards. All it takes is a few minutes each day to reflect on the small things in your life you are thankful for.
I’ve practiced gratitude on and off for a few years now, and I’ve learned the more consistent you are the better. I’ve noticed that I am happier, and good things happen when I am grateful for the little things. I also roll more easily with the lumps and bumps life can send at you. When I am lax in my gratitude, my disposition is a bit more ornery, I am less at ease with disappointments and much more prone to stress.
My experiences aren’t a fluke. Studies have found that being thankful what we have in our lives gives impacts our health in positive ways, letting us weather the storms we face better. Robert Emmons, the father of “positive psychology”, has spent years looking at how gratitude affects our health and well-being. He found six commonalities between that people who practice gratitude on a regular.
Emmons defines gratitude as ones attitude toward themselves and the outside world. Those that practice it are more likely to have a positive attitude and relate more positively to the world around them while recognizing the positives in their own lives. It gives them the ability to weather life’s challenges with a smile rather than a frown. Gratitude forces our attention outside of our own sphere.
Gratitude gives us the opportunity to appreciate what we have in our lives. It’s not always about the material possessions, but how we feel about the material possessions. One study found that billionaires in Japan and the impoverished in India both saw their lives as miserable, illustrating that it’s not what you have but your attitude to what you have that matters. Finding gratitude in the everyday of our lives let’s us be at peace and find joy.
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. I spend ten minutes every morning with a cup of coffee, my journal and my favorite pen. I try to jot down at least ten things that I am grateful for each day. Finding ten can be a challenge, so I’ll let myself get bay with five, if I am really pressed.
Another trick I’ve used that is really fun, is to write one thing down each night on a pretty piece of scrap paper with the days’ date and toss it into a large glass jar. What you write down can be something you are grateful for or it can be one amazing thing that happened to you that day. At the end of the year, you can go through the bits and pieces and reflect on how awesome you year has been.
I challenge you to start adopting an attitude of gratitude. It is humbling, and well worth the effort.