It’s that time of year when we are all feeling a little more thankful. Families are getting together for the holidays, catching up with loved ones, and are reminded of how blessed we truly are. For many of us, we are feeling some very deep emotions, the most powerful being gratitude.
What Gratitude is
To feel gratitude is to be genuinely appreciative and thankful for something or someone in your life. This is a positive feeling that can be experienced not only through emotions but even physically within your body. People describe this feeling as their heart “swelling”, feeling a sense of warmth, or feeling flooded with happiness. Gratitude can bring us energy, it can make us smile and laugh, and it can even make us cry — but in a good way.
Gratitude is an emotion that also evokes action. Allowing us to express generosity, understanding, and an extra dose of kindness to those around us. To experience gratitude is to feel uplifted and grounded at the same time, and it has a way of making us feel connected to our experiences and relationships.
How to Practice Gratitude
While gratitude is something we naturally feel, there is a way to bring more of it into our lives through practice. Doing so will help us trigger this emotion and bring us into a more positive state of mind.
Below you will find 3 ways you can practice gratitude every single day.
- Recognize the good in your life… no matter how small.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
Going into this season I challenge you to consciously note your appreciation for someone or something in your life daily. You can keep this internal and simply sit with the feeling, you can write it out in a notebook or your notes app, or you can say it out loud. This can be as deeply felt as acknowledging that you feel thankful to be married to your husband and as simple as being happy that Starbucks got your coffee order exactly right. Gratitude is gratitude and when we choose to pause and feel it, beautiful things unfold.
- Act on your good feelings.
Gratitude is a feeling that evokes generosity and an extra dose of kindness, and when acted upon, has the power to extend that good feeling to others around us. Expressing gratitude to those in our lives can be rewarding for both you and those on the receiving end. Simple ways you can show your gratitude is by writing a letter or a short email, giving a small gift of appreciation or visiting someone to let them know how much you appreciate them.
- Savor precious moments.
Savoring means that you focus your full attention on any given moment that brings you joy. Being fully present in a beautiful moment allows you to appreciate your experience and it elicits a stream of positive emotions as you let everything else around you fall away.
Of course, there are so many different ways to experience gratitude, but if you can consciously start with these three, you’ll notably bring more positivity into your everyday life.
Benefits of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can lead to several positive benefits both internally and externally. Gratitude is an emotion that can actively pull us out of a negative mindset or low place.
Gratitude also has a way of seeing opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have acknowledged. When you actively and consciously are grateful for what you already have you tend to be more aware of what’s possible for you. When you’re in a state of lack you’re focusing down and in, whereas when you’re in feelings of appreciation and happiness you’re looking up and out. This will help you see opportunities and possibilities that you may not have realized otherwise.
Lastly, gratitude has the ability to shift the moods and energy all around us. If you’re experiencing conflict or tension, try thinking about or expressing all of the things you’re grateful for regarding the person or situation. This will help spur a more positive outlook and also help on an energetic level. A phenomenon that will no doubt help everyone get to neutral ground and in the mood to problem-solve.
As you go into the rest of this week, I challenge you to embody as much gratitude as you possibly can. This is one of the most powerful, positive emotions we can feel, and when we consciously bring it into our lives we experience more genuine happiness and authentic appreciation for life.
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