What is gratitude?
Gratitude is defined as “the state of being grateful; Thankfulness.” It emerges organically when you show sincere appreciation for someone or something.
It can be applied to something physical, like the food in your house, or something intangible like the love you feel for your children.
When it emerges, you feel lighter, happier, and more present in the here and now.
How gratitude changes your brain
When you acknowledge the blessings in your life, no matter how big or small, and you feel appreciation for those blessings, you enter a grateful state.
In this newfound openness, you experience life differently. Burdens and stressors temporarily subside and you’re able to fully embrace and recognize everything going well. In turn, you feel lighter, freer and more aligned as a result.
What’s more, when practiced regularly, gratitude can change the way your brain processes information. According to MRI scans from a recent study, people who give thanks on a daily basis for a 90-day period experienced a “greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex”. This part of the brain is responsible for processing social information, memory functions and the making of long-term decisions for the furture.
This activation means giving thanks on a daily basis can actually rewire your brain, and train it to be less anxious and stressed out. As a result, you’ll experience improved mental health over time.
Why should I give thanks?
Everyone in life faces unexpected challenges and obstacles. Gratitude can help you navigate yours without losing hope or feeling overly stressed out, anxious or depressed as a result.
When practiced regularly, gratitude can help you achieve more optimal physical and mental health. This happens because when you’re focusing on what’s going right, rather than what’s going wrong, you’re tuning into a more positive perception of life.
That’s why giving thanks on a daily basis is an important practice to ritualize because it can improve the quality of your life and overall wellbeing.
How can I create a gratitude practice?
1.) Morning Gratitude
Before your feet hit the floor each morning, start your day by saying, thinking, singing or shouting three things you’re grateful for. If you don’t know where to begin, check out this list of 101 things.
By meeting life with a sincere “thank you” first thing in the morning, you’ll set a positive tone for your entire day. This can help you live in a more present, positive state.
2.) Words of Appreciation"We rise by lifting others." Click To Tweet
I’ve always loved this quote because it’s powerful and true. When we show appreciation for others, they feel valued, seen and uplifted as a result. But, it’s not just beneficial for them — words of appreciation are beneficial for you, too. When you show or tell someone how much you care for them, you’ll feel good as well.
That’s why making words of appreciation a habit will help you lead a happier, healthier more meaningful life. You can start doing this today by sending letters, text messages, social media messages, calling or speaking directly to those in your life you’re thankful for. Let them know why you’re grateful for them and how they’ve positively impacted your life.
Each time you offer words of appreciation, you’ll help someone rise to a higher energetic state, and you’ll rise too.
3.) Say “Thank you”
As you move throughout your day, work “thank you” into your vocabulary more often. When you grab your morning coffee, give thanks to your barista or coffee maker. As you make your way to work, give thanks to your feet, car or subway train.
Find things to be thankful all day long. The more frequently you do this, the more present-focused you’ll be. And when your mind is concentrating on what’s in front of it right now, it’s not worrying about the past or the future. As a result, you’ll experience life with less stress and anxiety!
4.) Practice Self-love"Self-love is the foundation of all other love." Click To Tweet
How amazing is your body?! It houses your soul throughout this physical experience, and keeps everything functioning at an optimal level so you can focus on experiencing life. Show your body the ultimate form of gratitude by regularly practicing self-love.
Eat food that nourishes your body. Be physically active. Meditate. Stimulate your mind with a good book. Create something new. Sit under a tree. Have a picnic at the beach. Try something new you’ve been wanting to try. And always set aside time to do things you enjoy every single day.
When you give love to yourself, and honor your body by feeding it what it needs to thrive and moving it about, you’ll create a healthier state of being for yourself. Plus, by carving out time to create and do things you love, you’ll enjoy life more!
5.) Bedtime Gratitude
Rather than aimlessly scrolling through social media at night, frantically checking news updates, your emails, or spending all night worrying about what tomorrow will bring, spend a few minutes before bed sitting in a grateful state.
Think about three things that went well in your day or that you’re grateful for. Allow those 3 things to sink into your consciousness, and send yourself off to dreamland with calm, uplifting thoughts.
Giving thanks before bed will help you have a more restful sleep, and end your day on a high note.
As you cultivate your gratitude practice remember, life will still happen. You’ll still face challenges, and have hard days. During your times of struggle, you don’t have to pretend you aren’t going through difficulties. The point of gratitude isn’t to stop feeling your emotions, but to help you navigate your boat on unpredictable waters without capsizing.
What are you thankful for? List 3 things in the comments below!