Gratitude is universal. It crosses all boundaries, genders, ages, and nations. Gratitude is the glue that bonds societies and relationships.
Gratitude in leadership can make an employee feel recognized, a co-worker feel appreciated, a manager feel acknowledged.
Gratitude in business can make customers feel heard, clients feel important, people feel valued.
Gratitude in life can bring joy to chaos, meaning to misery, clarity to complexity.
Gratitude has the power to change everyone and everything. Research has shown that both the practices of gratitude and savouring the positive moments have many health benefits, emotional and otherwise. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.
“Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”William Arthur Ward
Practicing gratitude can be a powerful way to strengthen your mental health while helping to amplify positive emotions. When you cultivate a sense of gratitude in your daily life, anxiety and negative emotions can often soften over time, while stress resilience increases. Feelings of gratitude can be grounding, relaxing, and peace-promoting, and a gratitude practice can also help shift your mindset in positive ways during challenging times.
If you’ve been musing over your goals for the coming year (I have!), note that creating a creative gratitude practice for 2019 can help you hone in on your next-year goals, while potentially boosting your mood in the process. And no matter what your goals for 2020 may be, if your aim is to practice more gratitude, you have options beyond your typical gratitude journal.
So whilst our My Kind of Yoga Ambassadors’ classes this month is all about being grateful, here are some tips to help you practice gratitude:
- Daily gratitude journal. Writing down in a journal, perhaps at the end of the day, three to five things you were most grateful for that day can help integrate into your psyche more of the positive aspects of your life you may take for granted.
- Prayer or meditation of gratitude. Start off your prayer or meditation by giving thanks.
- Notice and reflect on at least three things to be grateful for, with a focus on the small things – a flower, a kind word from a neighbour, a smile from a stranger, the sun shining, the rain helping the flowers in your front yard to grow. If you find this difficult to do on a daily basis, start with a few times a week and build the practice to every day.
- Integrate repetitive messages of gratitude throughout your day. You might start by creating frequently-used computer passwords that include the first letters of a phrase of gratitude—the letters in IAGFMB@7, for instance, could be used to stand for “I am grateful for my brother”.
- Intentionally practice to express gratitude, either by word or deed, to at least one person every day. Include an expression of gratitude toward yourself on a regular basis as part of that practice, too.
Be the change you want to see in the world by making gratitude a part of each day. If we all practice gratitude more regularly, the world will be a better place. Practicing gratitude can take so little to do, but yields a lot over time. By choosing a few ways to mindfully note and honour who and what you’re grateful for every day, not only can you strengthen your own capacity for appreciation and positive emotions, but you can add value to others’ lives, too. And that’s something to feel great about as you head into 2020.