Practicing gratitude is more than recognizing it’s good to be thankful for what you have. Science is now acknowledging what Sages and Mystics have known for eons: That being in a state of gratitude is physically and psychologically transformative. When we embrace gratitude as a daily practice, we experience more vibrant health, peace of mind, and beautiful moments in our lives.
Being thankful is a habit that becomes easier the more you do it. It’s about making a choice to focus your energy on noticing and acknowledging the good stuff. Start by being thankful for little things you’d miss if they were gone – like hot showers, singing birds, cool breeze, scent of fresh tomatoes, a favorite song, red lipstick, or colors of the sunset. Appreciating simple things eases resistance and allows you to notice even more good things; it retrains your mind to stay thankful and positive moment to moment throughout the day. You become more relaxed, happier and may even start to experience a flow state.
Transformative Benefits of Gratitude
1. Reduces Stress + Anxiety
When we feel grateful, our brain eases stress and anxiety by releasing a stream of mood enhancing compounds including dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. And … practicing gratitude consistently over time is shown to lessen symptoms even more.
2. Rewires Our Brain
Practicing gratitude activates our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that processes positive experiences and feelings of reward. A thankfulness practice literally reshapes our brains with new neural pathways and increases our ability to experience positivity and it’s emotional benefits. The more you practice gratitude, the easier it becomes to enter a grateful state and feel good.
3. Supports Deeper Sleep
Restless thoughts can make falling asleep, and staying asleep, a challenge. Relaxing our minds before bed calms the nervous system and prepares us for restorative sleep and REM. According to Professor Robert Emmons, a leading expert in the psychology of gratitude, focusing on what we’re thankful for a few minutes before bed can give us an extra half hour of quality sleep.
4. Boosts Immunity
Being thankful increases optimism. Immunology research at the University of Utah is finding that positivity boosts immunity (and decreases inflammation) by increasing disease-fighting red blood cells in the body. Gratefulness also supports lower cortisol levels which boosts immune function too.
5. Cultivates Mindfulness
It’s easy to get lost in the stress of daily life. The National Science Foundation reveals that about 80% of our 15,000 to 50,000 daily thoughts are negative. When we’re caught in negative thinking we forget about the present moment and all the good things around us. Developing the awareness of the beauty around us gives us a reason to be thankful in each moment and can help us be mindful with our words, thoughts and choices.
6. Happiness + Self Esteem
When we feel gratitude and see our life in a positive light, negative thoughts start to melt away. The more we practice acknowledging the good stuff, the easier it is to feel content, no matter what the situation is. We accept that we’re worthy of happiness, love and joy. Self esteem and self worth blossom. And it’s contagious… gratitude benefits everyone around us. We become more generous and empathetic as we share our gratitude.
Ways to Practice Gratitude Now
○ Reflect on what you're grateful for
○ Don't expect perfection
○ Help someone else
○ Pick 3 times throughout the day to pause and consider 3 things you're thankful for
○ Express your gratitude directly to people in your life
○ Start a gratitude journal
○ Try a gratitude ritual like pausing before a meal to be thankful