Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and thankfulness for life. An attitude of gratitude is about becoming aware of what is good and positive in your life right now. It is the habit of feeling and expressing thanks for all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. The more gratitude you have and express, the better and more positive your personality is.
Scientific evidence that gratitude improves our health, comes from research accumulated by Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California. His studies have found that gratitude makes you healthier, smarter and more energetic. He noted that people who wrote a daily gratitude journal, reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy than those who didn’t.
How can you develop an attitude of gratitude today? Try using the four A’s: appreciation, approval, admiration and attention in every part of your life.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
I find that one of the best ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. I keep it next to my bed and before going to sleep I write down all the things I have been grateful for during that day. With all this gloomy winter weather, when the sun shines it features prominently in my journal! Keeping a gratitude journal helps me to identify the things that make me feel good so that I can incorporate more of these into my life, and it also helps me to adopt a more positive mind-set. I also have a lovely diary of happy memories and things in my life that I am grateful for (this can be wonderful to read during difficult times).
Create Gratitude Reminders
Write your favourite memories or experiences on cards and keep them in your purse or handbag. Or use photos for example: your spouse, your sleeping child, a beautiful place in nature, a pet, an exciting trip, a special moment with a friend, etc.
Make a list of all the people in your life for whom you are grateful
Who has helped or supported you? Start with the easy ones, like family, friends, mentors, work colleagues and close advisors. Then let the list expand organically – great service, your health, staff at your favourite restaurant or coffee shop, the weather, delicious food and also include things like technology, heating, electricity, clean water, etc. Include absolutely anything that you are grateful for no matter how small it is. You will be amazed at how this makes you take notice of everything around you so much more and how it really does make you more mindful.
Appreciate yourself for all that you are and all that you do
Take a moment to look back and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Acknowledge your good traits, what you’ve accomplished, and the positive ways that you’ve grown. Recognise the ways in which you help and supports others too.
Dr Christiane Northrup says that practicing gratitude for as little as 15–20 seconds, can lower your stress hormone levels of cortisol and norepinephrine, relax your coronary arteries thus increasing the blood supply to your heart, deepen your breathing which increases the oxygen level of your tissues and it makes your heart rhythm become more harmonious, which positively affects your mood and all other bodily organs.
REMEMBERING TO DO IT!
Most people need something to keep them on track in practicing gratitude and they need something to help them remember, so I wear functional jewellery – my meaning to pause® bracelet. This bracelet worn on my wrist gently vibrates every 60 or 90 minutes to remind me to practice mindfulness, or to take a few deep breaths, or to relax muscle tension in my body, or to practice being grateful. For more information go to: http://www.meaningtopause.com