Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia which means grace or graciousness. It is a thankful appreciation for something that you receive, whether it is a compliment or a gift. But on a deeper level for an individual, it’s when you acknowledge the goodness in your life.
Decades of research prove the connection between people who regularly practice gratitude feel more optimistic and better about their lives. Harvard research into positive psychology noted people who reflected positively on their day or week surprisingly exercised more, had fewer visits to the doctors, slept better and felt more alive than those who reflected on the frustrations of their week.
The practice of gratitude will help you appreciate what you have instead of reaching for something new in the hope of making you happier. Recognise the saying “...the grass isn’t always greener’? Practising this everyday or even weekly to start off with will help you refocus on what you have instead of what you don’t have. As the weeks go by, you will feel your mental state grow stronger.
Gratitude benefits have positive lasting effects on the brain, but it takes time. Here are some ways you can start:
1. Say Thank You More
Many of us say thank you every day, but when we describe it as part of a gratitude practice, it’s on a deeper level with people who have made a lasting impact on your life. Be thankful for the people who have shaped and changed your life or have given you meaning. You can either recognise these people with a thank you card and gift, say it with words when you see them again or think about the person and say it mentally.
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Find a beautiful notebook or kikki.k have a dedicated gratitude journal that will help prompt you on the things you can be grateful for over the day and week. Spend time in the evening and reflect on the little moments that made you happy. Find joy in the little things in life as the collection of these events become a greater impact on your life.
3. Meditation & Mindfulness
A great time to get into meditation is during Mindfulness in May, a global meditation challenge encouraging individuals to enjoy the benefits of meditation whilst donating to a worthy cause to improve access to clean drinking water in needed countries. Meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment and you can also focus on what you're grateful for.
4. Create a Visual Board
If you’re a creative and visual person, you might like to create a vision board of all the people you’re thankful for in your life from family members, close friends, co-workers, mentors and even your furry pets. It can also serve as a memory board of memories you cherish such as your last beach holiday or a childhood picture of you and your best friend. It’s a great reminder of the good times and important people who have positively impacted and shaped your life.
5. Give Back to the Community
There is no doubt giving back to the community and to people who need your time and skills will help you reflect on things you might have taken for granted. Often we forget the basic things in life such as a roof over your head, clean drinking water and heat during the winter months is not available for everyone. For more information on volunteering opportunities, visit your local council or approach charities who might benefit from a few hours of your time a month.