There are many different definitions of gratitude but I especially like this one from Harvard Medical School, which says that gratitude is:
“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”.
This is exactly how I feel about gratitude…
We are all so busy with our daily lives so who the hell has time to stop and smell the flowers??
It’s so easy to take all the “simple” things we have for granted. Such a cliché but usually we don’t realize how lucky we were until we lose something we once had. Our parents, our job, our physical abilities etc.
If you think to say thanks for your family, the roof over your head or the food you eat sounds silly to you let me (and the Positive Psychology Project) give you some other good reasons to practice gratitude daily.
Expressing your thanks can really improve your overall sense of well-being. Studies show that grateful people are more agreeable, more open, and less neurotic.
Gratitude is also a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships. People who express their gratitude tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic.
Researchers show that after 10 weeks, the people who had focused on gratitude in their lives showed significantly more optimism in many areas of their lives, including health and exercise.
In the pursuit of happiness and life satisfaction, gratitude is showing a direct and long-lasting effect thus the more gratitude we experience the happier our lives will be.
And who doesn’t want to be happier??
We all know there is a link between the mind and body and here gratitude has a double benefit! The feeling of appreciation when we are grateful helps us to have healthier minds and with that healthier bodies.
Two birds with one grateful stone!
Ok, now that we were convinced that gratitude is good for us in so many ways…
A lot of people keep a gratitude journal that they write in every morning/night. Although I totally love the idea of a handwritten notebook I find that it doesn’t work for me. The notebook doesn’t always feet in my bag so it’s not always with me when I want to write in it, the whole ceremony regarding sitting down and writing seems a bit “time consuming” for me etc.
This past 100 days I’ve been using the app “Zest” on my phone. Yes, I know, using technology to practice such a simple and pure thing as gratitude can seem like a contradiction but Hey it actually works!
This app has a clean user interface that is very easy to use. You can set a daily reminder when to list what you are thankful for that day and you can add a picture which is a wonderful visual reminder of what a great day you had.
It shows you how long you’ve been using the app so it motivates you to keep going and a bonus motivator, you get a different inspirational quote each day!
Set it to any time convenient for you but doing it the same time each day helps you turn it into a habit. Also, because it’s on your phone that is always with you, even if you’re out with friends at evening or on your commute in the morning you can step aside for your daily dose of gratitude. It only takes a couple of minutes and it gets easier as you practice it.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude” | Ralph Waldo Emerson
Simply think of the positive things that happened during the day. You can write 3, 5 or even 10 things every day. It can be big or small, super general (like God, the universe, a roof over your head) or specific (your morning coffee or catching the bus at the last second). It doesn’t matter – as you practice you’ll find more and more things to be thankful for each day.
I like to mix it up between general appreciation for life and specific things that happened that day. Also, and this is a good one! I love giving thanks in advance for the things I want to have- it’s a surefire way to bring more goodness into your life.