The power of gratitude changed my life. A few things actually changed my life: connecting with source, meditation and gratitude. I will admit that I had to fake gratitude at first, but it wasn’t long before I began to feel it. This article is about gratitude and what it can do.
“Be grateful for where you are – you have to be where you are to get where you need to go.” – Amy Poehler
Why is gratitude so important
If you aren’t happy with what you have, you won’t’ be happy with more. What if, hypothetically, you “would be happy with more.” OK, what happens if you never get more? Are you going to hate your life and be miserable because you were relying on something that you never received “to make you happy?”
Surely not, unless your name is Oscar the Grouch?
Gratitude is not only a way to ensure that you are happy, right here and now, but it also will ensure that better things, more things, come your way. When you are grateful for things in your life, you will not have time to focus on the things that you are ungrateful for and we get “that which we focus upon”. So, you will end up getting more things that you are grateful for. Pretty cool huh? I learned this and wasn’t really “sold on it” until it worked for me. It works. Gratitude works.
What research says about gratitude
Studies have shown that people who “moan and groan” about their aches and pains have more pain than people who are grateful and don’t complain. This doesn’t mean that grateful people don’t have aches and pains, it means they choose to focus on the parts of their bodies that are not hurting instead.
If their back hurts, they get out of bed in the morning happy that they have two legs and can see well enough to get to the coffee pot (or somewhere else). Their back may be hurting just as much as anyone else their age, but they inadvertently block out it out by thinking of the things they are grateful for. It isn’t intentional – it’s just how the brain works.
Negativity can be replaced with gratitude
Your mind can’t process all the things you are grateful for and all the things that you are miserable about at the same time!
Have you ever stubbed your toe? How long did it hurt? It hurt for a few minutes and you probably jumped up in down with one of your feet in your hands while you were making all kinds of noise (or saying all kinds of words that you wouldn’t want a child to hear).
Have you ever said, “ouch” and then just kept walking and ignored it? Well, you should try it next time. The pain lasts about 3 seconds.
That which you focus upon, you get more of. Including pain.
This also includes things that you are grateful, or ungrateful for.
What can being grateful really “do for me.”
- Showing appreciation can help you make new friends. Saying thank you is a nice thing to do and people tend to like people who do nice things!
- Gratitude improves health. Grateful people have fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthy, according to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude reduces toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, concluded that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. According to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky
- Grateful people sleep better. According to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased self-esteem.
- Gratitude increases mental strength. Research has shown gratitude reduces stress and also plays a major role in overcoming trauma
Journals, where you keep a record of things you are grateful, are a great way to increase your gratitude awareness. Here are a few tips on how to get the most our of keeping a gratitude journal:
- Don’t just “write to write”. Make a conscious decision to become happier and more grateful.
- Be specific. Elaborating in detail about a thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a list of many things.
- Get personal. Focusing on people that you are grateful for has more of an impact than focusing on things you are grateful for.
- Try subtraction. One way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain things – rather than with them.
- Enjoy surprises. Record events that were unexpected or surprising.
- Don’t overdo it. Writing (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than a daily journalist. You do not want to “get numb” to the things in your life that you are grateful for.
- Force yourself (if you must) to realize all the things that you have to be grateful for. Eventually (this doesn’t take long) you will begin looking at life in a whole new way.
Keeping a gratitude journal
1. Be thankful: Thankfulness is something you must make a conscious effort to practice. This is why keeping a gratitude journal is a great idea. A gratitude journal forces you to stop thinking about anything else except “what you are grateful for at that very moment.”
2. Make a rule to write down a certain number of things you are gratful for every day. Avoid writing down the same things you wrote on previous days. This will make it more difficult as the days go by, but it will force you to dig deep into the things you are truly grateful for. You will find yourself being grateful for really simple things eventually (as you run out of stuff to write down). You should be grateful for simple things. Even the air you breath is something to be grateful for!
3. Getting started: I mentioned earlier that gratitude wasn’t easy for me at first. I had to fake it. Start with writing things in your journal that are simple. You don’t have to “dig deep” to get started. Just get started. In a few days, you’ll feel how grateful you are (I even cry tears of gratitude some days). That “feeling” of gratitude is when you will begin to experience gratitude’s power.
4. Don’t forget to be grateful for you: Being grateful for being alive should not be overlooked. I say this because we all take our lives for granted. The mere fact that you are alive should be the one thing you are most grateful for.
5. Your abilites and senses: Can you walk, talk, see, hear and smell? Don’t forget these. There are people that can’t do these things! If you can’t do one or more of these things, be grateful for the things you can do. If you have any problem with putting things into perspective, check out these interviews I conducted with people with extreme adversities in their lives:
Dr. James Perdue
You have much to be grateful for. Experience gratitude and what it can do for you and your life. It will change your life as it has changed mine! Guaranteed or your money back!
What are you most grateful for? Let us know in the comment section below.