Recent studies show that the benefits of gratitude may include less stress, more joy, enhanced vitality, improved sleep, faster recovery from illness, more fulfilling relationships and a deeper spiritual connection!
Gratitude works because it recuits other positive emotions like joy, contentment and hope that have direct physical benefits.
Conscious appreciation also gives the mind a boost.
“When we experience gratitude we activate the part of the brain that floods the body with feel-good hormones”, says Mary-Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude
It helps dampen the stress response!
And yet after a hard day most of us tend to complain more than appreciate.
“We’re naturally more likely to put attention on what upsets us; its just human nature”, says psychologist Belleruth Naparstek.
But worry not, studies show that gratitude os a habot as learnable as flossing. Try these simple tips to show your gratitude every day:
LOOK AT THE DAYS AS A GIFT
Its not easy being grateful all the time. But it’s when you feel least thankful that you need the benefits of gratitude the most.
Recognising each day as a gift is the first step toward living a life of gratitude.
Begin the day by reflecting on the things you’re thankful for. This will start the day with a positive perspective and with feelings of hope, peace and happiness.
Max Lucado says, “The day arrives with hang-ups, bird drops and shirt stains, but give the day a chance. Amplify gratitude. Mute grumbling. And what do you know?
Before long the day is done and surprisingly decent.”
Saying grace before meals is a powerful way to express thanks, allowing you to be nourished spiritually as well as physically. If the religious angle doesn’t work for you then use other tools
Such as songs, poems, fiction, biographies and spiritual texts for inspiration.
KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
A good way to cultivate appreciation is to write daily in a gratitude journal. In psychology professor Robert Emmon’s studies, people who make lists of what they’re thankful for are 25% happier, sleep half an hour more a night and exercise 33% more each week than those who don’t. Each night, replay your day, recalling the everyday pleasures, kind gestures, positive interactions and beautiful sights.
Emmons says, “Focusing on gratitude leads to having more to be grateful about”
It is important to share your gratitude. “We forget to tell a friend we’re grateful for her. If you really articulate why you’re grateful, its contagious. If your friend feels really good, she’ll start telling other people she’s grateful and so it becomes a force. Be specific and consider delivering a hand written thanks.” Says Mary Beth Sammons.
SEE A BIGGER PICTURE
Grateful people spot the positive without denying pain. “You may be having trouble at work, finances may not be good, and you receive blessings every day” says Ryan author of Attitudes of Gratitude
PAY IT FORWARD
Charitable giving releases a rush of feel-good endorphins in the brain and positively impacts happiness levels. A survey on social giving in SA found that regular citizens give roughly over R12-billion a year from their own pockets, putting corporate giving, with its R5-billion offering to charity, to shame. Of the survey respondents, 54% gave money, 31% gave goods, and 17% volunteered their time to charitable causes. Go to www,greatergoods.co.za to find out how you can be of service.