I've found a seriously powerful tool that can change your brain and alter your perspective and overall enjoyment in life.
Gratitude is the appreciation of what is meaningful and valuable to oneself, its a general state of thankfulness. It's not just a hippy, spiritual, wishy washy thing.
You can re-wire your brain and basically train your brain to recognise joy. How cool is that! Knowing I can actively re-wire myself to see more of the good in our world. By being more appreciative of life it pushes you towards a more thankful frame of mind.
There is plenty of science out there outlining the benefits of actively practicing gratitude and how it can positively influence your life.
Psychologists find that over time it can boost your happiness and with regular practice it can make you more optimistic. Our thoughts, moods and behaviour changes for the better. You may feel less pain, less stress, develop stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships and can also increase resilience. It can really boost your mental and physical health.
I was recently reading about a really interesting idea that gratitude is an attitude. A comment made by Dr Emmons, a professor of psychology, was , ”Attitude change often follows behaviour change. By living the gratitude that we do not necessarily feel, we can begin to feel that gratitude that we live." In simpler terms, even if you are not satisfied with this day, if you practice gratitude, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. It’s similar to improving your posture and, as a result, becoming more energetic and self-confident. (a brilliant example that does not belong to me and I can't quite remember where I heard it, whoops)
There was a wonderful study carried out by Dr Emmons which lasted 10 weeks and involved three groups. Each group was asked to record specific things about what had happened to them throughout their week.
- The first group were asked to write down things they were grateful for.
- The second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them.
- The third group wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more! So actively practicing gratitude can be an effective way to enhance your quality of life.
I personally found practicing gratitude really helpful. I started this habit when I was going through a strange time and was feeling rather anxious. I acknowledged the feelings but this tool helped me really tune into what was good in my life. I believe it was one of the tools that brought me back to a place of acceptance, peace and joy.
So heres a few tips of mine which you could apply to your everyday living:
(Research shows that all it takes is three blessings a day)
- Allocate a time during your day to write in a gratitude journal. All you need to do is record three things you are grateful for and why. To get the habit rolling, you could just recall them out loud. They can be really simple. I know there are days where it might seem impossible, I understand. In those situations you may choose to think of something practical.
- SMILE! When you smile, the simple activation of the muscles release certain chemicals in the brain responsible for making you feel happy.
I really hope you consider including this practice into your daily routine. Let me know how you get on.
Happy days and much love.
Recommended resources to check out if your spare time & where I sourced some my information from.
Emmons study: How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life
Ted Talk: Want to be Happy? Be Grateful
Book: Resilience Project - Finding Happiness through Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness by Huge van Cuylenburg