Gratitude is defined as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life” by leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons. Yes gratitude is being researched. Not surprisingly the research shows that gratitude can keep you healthier by lowering blood pressure, improving immune function and decrease depression.
Research also shows that gratitude can improve relationships, reduce negative emotions and increase happiness.
Then why don’t we all practice gratitude?
It’s easy to have gratitude for the good things in our life. We’re grateful for our family, our friends, our job, our home. We mean it when we say it, we feel blessed. But then something happens and we stop feeling gratitude, we stop feeling blessed and we focus on the things that are going wrong in our life.
That’s where the practice comes in.
Having a daily gratitude practice helps you recognize all the things there are to be grateful for….even when you’re finding it hard to focus on the good stuff. We don’t have to be at the mercy of our circumstances or emotions. We can choose to create the emotions we desire and gratitude is a good feeling emotion.
Here are 5 easy ways to practice gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three to five things you are grateful for a on a daily basis. You can write it on a regular piece of paper or in a beautiful journal.
- Give at least one compliment a day to someone else. Share a positive post on social media about a friend, company or product you truly love.
- Spend five minutes a day with your hand on your heart, appreciating you and all of your hard work.
- Donate your time or money to an organization or charity you believe in.
- When you think a negative thought, try to see the positive side in the situation. Learning to hear, question and alter your thoughts gives you the power to change your life.
Once you have started your gratitude practice give it some time to see the changes. You will feel the benefits of gratitude in the moment, but real change comes with continued practice. Noticeable health benefits start to emerge at about three weeks.
Side effects can include better sleep, less depression and less stress. You may also notice a reduction in headaches, sore muscles, stomach pain and nausea.
Research also shows that those who practice gratitude tend to exercise more regularly, eat better, have fewer illnesses and generally feel healthier.
What are you grateful for today?