So, I’m sure you hear a lot of people talking about gratitude or ask the question, “What are you grateful for…?” It may seem cliché and the “it” thing at the moment, but practicing gratitude can actually be one way to bring more happiness into your life. Gratitude means to cultivate a warm feeling of thankfulness and appreciation by focusing on the positive aspects of your life. That is, noticing and examining what is working, what you have, and what is going well. Gratitude is a practice, meaning it is something you have to make a conscious choice to do. It doesn’t just happen naturally. You have to train your brain to see the positive and learn how to soak up the moment. The more you train your brain to see the positive, the more it becomes a habit; and you can then develop a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation. You hold the power to attract more positive experiences, feelings and thoughts into your daily life, which ultimately makes you a happier person.
It’s important to note that you do not push away or ignore the hard emotions or the negative experiences, but instead you choose to not make the negative the focus of your thinking. If you focus on what’s not working in your life and complain or dwell on the negative, you will begin to only notice what is wrong, hard or difficult about your life. Essentially, you can train your brain to focus on the negative too. Think about it, have you ever had a day when EVERYTHING was going wrong (or at least that’s how it seemed), and the smallest thing set you off, leading you to believe you were having a “bad day.” However, on a usual day that small thing would have never really upset you. Well, it’s because on that day your brain was focused on the negative. It happens to all of us! So, it’s helpful to choose – and it’s not always the easy path – to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
The moral of the story here is: What you choose to focus on has a direct impact on your happiness. Why is happiness important? What are the benefits of being happy? Being happy improves your physical health and decreases your feelings of sadness and depression. Being happy reduces your stress, increases your resilience, and improves your self-esteem. If you are grateful for what you receive, you will attract more experiences in which to be grateful. This phenomenon is called the law of attraction. You literally have the power to attract more happiness into your life!! The mind is more powerful than I think anyone realizes!!!!
Gratitude is one path to experiencing happiness.
What should you be grateful for? Well, you can be grateful for anything! Literally anything! Anything that brings you an ounce of peace, joy, calm, satisfaction, contentment, and on and on and on. Some days you might feel grateful for just being alive, and other days it could be that you have finally achieved a longstanding goal. The important thing to do is notice and develop the realization that positive things can be found in most all situations. Today, I’m feeling gratitude for my daughter, husband, my work, the sunshine, my health, my sister, my nephew, my mental strength, my dad, my mom, my pillow (I love my pillow), my cat (and his vet!), cheese puffs…
Gratitude is one path to experiencing happiness. Gratitude is considered a high vibrational state, and it is really hard to be anxious, stressed out or overwhelmed when in a state of gratitude. I know we all experience situations in our lives that are difficult, out of our control or just outright stressful, but if we can learn to pick out the little glimmers of gratitude in ANY situation, we can start to take control of our own happiness. Those little glimmers could be something as simple as enjoying a piece of food or having a comfortable bed to sleep in, to something as complex as appreciating the learning opportunities emerging from your difficult situation. You hold the power to train your brain to look for the positive and feel happier and cultivate a life of gratitude!!
Tips and tricks to start your gratitude practice:
- Momentary Pause: Set aside a few moments during the day to pause. Just pause. Be present and see the beauty in your current circumstance.
- Gratitude Journal: Each day for two weeks list three to five items that you are grateful for. (See the downloadable worksheet.)
- Write a letter to yourself: Tell yourself what you appreciate about yourself and your accomplishments.