How many times in your life do you sit back and truly appreciate all the things that you have around in you? All the people that you love, who are there for you during good times and bad? For most of us, we’d say that these things are appreciated, and we tell those people that we love them on a regular basis. And this gratitude towards the important things in life is important, because it helps us to find happiness, spread happiness, and appreciate the things in life that make it good for us. Now have a think about how often you show gratitude for the smaller things in life. The sound of a bird singing, the scent in the air after the grass has been cut, or the snap of a twig as you step out on to a brisk winter walk. Are these things we should show gratitude for too? Or are these things that just happen around us, no matter what we do? When we think about what gratitude is, its little wonder that it is widely believed to be able to bring inner peace and calm to our lives. Gratitude is the ability to show thanks and appreciation for kindness, and to be able to return that kindness. So when we show gratitude to the earth- for all that it does to provide us with food to keep us alive, provide us with natural ingredients to keep us well- we are showing just as much appreciation for the world around us as we do for the people who enrich our lives. Today we want to talk about the reasons why gratitude should be a daily part of your life, plus three ways in which you can start to practise gratitude today.
Appreciate the small things in life
When you start out consciously practising gratitude, it can be difficult at first. If I was to ask you what you’re feeling grateful for today, you might automatically say ‘my children’ or ‘my friends’. But sometimes it can be difficult to pin down exactly what it is about your children or your friends you are grateful for on that particular day. But when you start to go deeper, and look at the smaller things in life, you start to understand the power of gratitude for what it is. The way that your child holds her head back when she laughs. The way that your best friend always seems to call exactly when you need her to. These are the things that we tend to overlook in life, and yet these are the things that make us happy- we just need to recognise that.
Gratitude can increase your sense of well being
Gratitude might, to some, sound a little wishy washy, but there are many studies out there that have found it can actually work wonders for your sense of well being. Emotional intelligence has been linked to feelings of gratitude, and it has the ability to actually make you feel a sense of calm, peace and well being. For many who practise daily, it is a tool that they can pick up when they need it, and a tool which actually has many other benefits too. Those who practise gratitude can:
- reduce the symptoms of depression, simply by training the mind to focus on the things that make them happy
- maintain lower blood pressure
- improve their immune system
- being to recover from emotional trauma
A tool for happiness
If we were to tell you that we know what to do in order to feel happiness, wouldn’t you want to do it too? Researchers believe that happiness is more than just an emotion. Happiness can alter the way in which you see the world, how you approach obstacles and how you form and maintain relationships. When you’re feeling positive, you’re more able to think globally, so that the smaller niggles in life begin to bother you less. Many religions use gratitude as a tool to focus and to spread happiness and joy, and to unite. There’s no reason why we can’t do the same.
How to practise gratitude today
Remember that nothing is too small to be celebrated. No act is too insignificant to be appreciated. And once you begin to look around you at the things you may otherwise miss, but which make up the rich tapestry of your life, you might just start to find practising gratitude becomes easier and easier. Here are three ways you can start today:
Start by listing three things each day. Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of three things you are grateful for at this moment in time, on this day. If you’re struggling, close your eyes and use your senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? Which things make you feel safe, protected and loved? Think about why these things make you feel this way, and write it down. Each day, write a new list and think about the reasons why you are grateful for them. This will begin to seep into your every day, as you find yourself appreciating more and more about the world around you.
Write a gratitude journal. Journals are a wonderful way for you to capture the day’s events, and when you start to write about the things that make you happy, and that you are grateful to have in your life, you start to view the world a little differently. When you start to write down the things that make you happy, as they occur, you are more likely to notice more and more things that make your heart sing.
Practise gratitude rituals. These can vary from person to person, so don’t feel you have to follow our suggestions word for word. Some people like to say grace before a meal, others like to take a moment to breathe deeply as they step outside the front door. But the important thing is that you take a moment in each day to stop. Stop, and take a moment out from your day. Write your list. Write your journal. Write a post it note and stick it to the wall to remind yourself you feel happy. Grateful. Content. It might seem silly at first, but when you look at the bigger picture, it starts to make sense.
Do you practise gratitude?