Updated: Jan 2
There is an endless list of benefits when it comes to the topic of gratitude. Read more to learn how to develop a practice of gratitude in your own life!
When I ask people whether or not they believe gratitude is important, majority of their responses are 'yes.' Why, then when I ask people, "do you practice gratitude?" they often say no. This confuses me. Many people understand the benefits of gratitude and they know it is an important aspect to their lives, yet they do nothing about it.
Gratitude is one of those things that we know is so good for us, but so many people don't do it. I often ponder.... WHY? Why is it that we don't do things that we know are so beneficial to us and to our bodies. We get this one body for life and we can do some amazing things with it, yet we don't. What is stopping us?
One thing I have come to realize with many aspects of life, not just practicing gratitude, is that most things are easier said than done. We can say we want to eat healthy, but we decide to have cheat meals. We say we want to exercise, but we sit and watch Netflix instead. We say we want to clean our closets, but we never do. The thing is, if we want something done, it needs to become a habit.
By definition, a habit is "a regular tendency or practice" (Oxford, 2020). Habits come in many forms. We have so many habits in our daily lives that we don't even know are habits. The little things we do on a daily basis that are so routine we forget we are even doing them. But there are other habits, ones which we are consciously aware of and that is where gratitude falls into place. Many of us know it's important, we just need to get started.
So... here's a tip! Start a gratitude journal. This is the easiest way to begin to develop an 'attitude of gratitude' in your own life. Before bed, place your journal by your night table with a pen on top. When you wake up in the morning, grab your journal and write out 3 things you are grateful for. Remember, these can be little things or big things:
things that brought small or large laughs
feelings of accomplishment at work
a strengthened connection with family
a glimmer of hope for the future
The important part is that you sit with your thoughts for 5 minutes. You stop to think, "what am I grateful for in my life?" and you write it down. The act of actually writing it down helps our brains to prioritize what we should be focusing on.
I have been writing in my journal for almost a year now, and I have gotten to the point where it has become part of my morning routine. I wake up, turn the coffee pot on, grab my journal and write my gratitude list while the coffee is brewing. For me, this is a routine task. I do not miss a morning, because I do not have my cup of coffee until I have written in my journal. I do not miss a cup of coffee in the morning, therefore I never miss a day of writing in my journal! (you can try the same thing- think of something that you love to do in the morning and then put your gratitude journal just before it. We call this 'habit stacking.' Put the new habit (journaling) before something you really enjoy (reading the paper) and that makes it easier to adopt the new habit. Don't believe me?- try it!)
You know gratitude has a wealth of benefits for your overall happiness and well-being, so what are you waiting for?
Grab that journal and start writing!
Thanks for reading,