Are you ready to begin your first gratitude practice? If you’re convinced that practicing gratitude will make a transformative difference to your life, you could benefit from this step by step guide to take you through the process. There are five helpful steps for you to follow.
Practicing gratitude will gain momentum with time and practice. Yet, no matter how much you might want to experience all the benefits that being more grateful can bring, there will sometimes be days when you just can’t be bothered to think about things to feel thankful for. If you’re busy or just feeling too depressed it can just seem too difficult to fit in your practice session for the day.
No matter how discouraged you feel, it’s important to stick with your commitment. If you give in to the temptation to let it slide for one day, you may never go back to it. Rest assured, though, even if you have to force yourself to sit down and write in your gratitude journal, you’ll reap the benefits once you get started.
come to you straight away, but that’s ok. Stop and wait for a minute to reflect. Enjoy the moment of peace and soon you’ll find yourself thinking of the first thing to add to your list....
We’ve said a lot in this book so far about how practicing gratitude frequently helps you to bring more positivity into your life. But what can you do if you feel that you have absolutely nothing to be grateful for?
Sometimes, everything in life can feel like it’s just too overwhelming. If everything sucks and you’re struggling to find even one thing to be thankful for, how do you move forward?
Although gratitude should be a simple thing to feel, it’s surprisingly difficult sometimes. That’s because we’re hardwired to overlook the good things we experience and, instead, put our focus primarily on everything that goes wrong. It even has a name – negativity bias. When we take it at its most basic level, this means we tend to pay more attention to the things that are bad because they threaten us.
We can safely ignore the good things since they won’t cause us any harm. However, bad things may be dangerous and therefore, we fixate automatically on them. This may be a primitive human response, but we don’t need to be controlled by it. Once you know that negativity bias exists and how it works, you can work on overriding your biological programming. You can choose to concentrate on the good things over the bad because, after all, there’s always something positive to think about, even when it seems otherwise.
Even in the most desperate and darkest times in your life, rest assured that there will still be something, however small, to feel grateful for. It’s especially important to focus on the good things when you feel like there’s nothing left in life to be thankful for. That’s the time when gratitude will make a huge difference. So, make a point of looking for something you’re thankful for every day and, eventually, you’ll begin to see more and more positive things around you and focus less and less on the negative.
How do you begin to find things to be thankful for if your life feels like it’s going down the tubes? Here are a few starting points to get you going....
If you’re convinced of the benefits of starting regular gratitude practice to transform your life, you’ll need to know how to begin. It’s very easy to say “be more grateful” but putting that into practice can be harder than it seems. Often, we don’t naturally focus on the positive, so learning how to do that can be a bigger challenge than you imagined. Here are some top tips to help you start learning to cultivate more thankfulness.
One of the best ways to reap all the benefits that gratitude can bring is to notice fresh things to be grateful for each day. One of the most effective ways to put this into practice is to start a gratitude journal.
Gratitude journaling is effective because it can slowly change how you perceive situations. It adjusts what you’re focusing on. You’re probably always thankful for having your family, for example, but if you simply write that each day your brain won’t stay on alert looking for new things to feel thanks for. Instead, get specific. Write exactly what you’re grateful for about your family. So, instead of just writing “I’m thankful to have my family around me” write “I’m thankful that my husband bought me flowers today to make me feel happy” or “I’m thankful that my sister asked me to come to hers for dinner tonight so I wouldn’t need to cook after my long day at work”....
Is your life everything you hoped that it would be? It’s unlikely, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this book. If you’ve been looking for ways to make your life better and to a implement positive change, gratitude could be the simple tool to leverage to take it to a new and happier level.
If you’re ready to use gratitude as the key to changing your life, you need to know precisely how it’s going to do this. We already know of the benefits that come with becoming more grateful – the emotional, health, social and work-related advantages that thankfulness can bring – however, how will it work at the most basic level?
A major reason why gratitude changes your life is due to the fact that it effectively changes your focus. Life centers around focus. Whatever you are focusing on will be what you’ll naturally move towards. If you’re living in a negative state, you’ll naturally experience more negativity in your life. After all, if you’re constantly focusing on negative things, that will be all you see. It’s all-too-easy to see the dilemmas and problems that surround a situation if your thinking is always geared that way.
Although it isn’t always as obvious, it’s surprisingly simple to see things with a positive slant, even if problems arise. Even if something goes awry, it becomes possible to seek out a silver lining to every bad situation. There usually is at least one, and if there truly isn’t it’s always possible to believe that something positive will, in the end, come out of the negative experience.
Yet, it isn’t all just about being a more positive person. If you have gratitude in your life, it can change everything since it breathes fresh positivity into all the things you do. It’s an enormous change of focus, a brand-new way of looking at things, and one that – although it may not come naturally to you – will eventually lead you to become increasingly appreciative of the beauty around you. Essentially, you move away from living in a permanently negative haze to living with abundance everywhere....
So, now we’ve looked at how gratitude can make you feel better physically and mentally. We’ve also looked at how it can improve your relationships and social life. There is another element that can be positively affected by being more thankful – your work life.
Gratitude has been shown to have a vital role to play in helping boost your career. It has been shown to make managers more effective, to help you network more effectively, to boost your decision-making abilities, increase your productivity and even to find new mentors or proteges. In short, showing thankfulness can help you to achieve the career goals that you’ve set for yourself, not to mention making your place of work a more enjoyable and friendly place to be.
So, how can practicing gratitude more regularly help you to improve your work prospects?
Studies have shown that being grateful can give you the energy boost you need to focus on your career goals. In research, participants were asked to write the goals that they wanted to achieve. Those who were more grateful reported greater progress towards meeting the goals that they had set for themselves by the study’s end...
Negativity can destroy relationships, both social and romantic. Nobody wants to spend time with someone who only sees the bad in life.
Let’s just take a closer look at marriages. Once both partners begin to take each other for granted and stop appreciating the things they do for each other, their relationship begins to suffer. As you become less appreciative, you also become more critical. You need only consider the Losada ratio to see how this can have a negative impact on your love life.
The Losada ratio divides the number of positive expressions of appreciation, encouragement and support given by one partner to the other by the number of negative ones including cynicism, sarcasm or disapproval. If the ratio is under 0.9, this means that there were 11percent less positive expressions than negative ones. Once this happens, relationships suffer a serious strain.
Conversely, relationships that are satisfying and long-lasting are those that have a positive ratio that stands at 5.1 or over. It isn’t too surprising that marriages become stronger the more both partners express their thanks and appreciation to each other. This is one of the reasons why practicing gratitude more often can be extremely helpful to your personal relationships.
When you’re more grateful for the little things in life, you naturally become a more kind, helpful, compassionate and understanding person. Those who practice thankfulness regularly report that they have a closer connection with others around them, were much more willing to help other people and, most importantly, were also viewed as being helpful and considerate by those within their social networks....
We’ve already looked at how gratitude can impact on your psychological well-being. However, it can also have a positive effect on your physical health. Here, we take a closer look at how implementing gratitude practice in your everyday routine can make you feel better, get well sooner, and maybe even live longer.
Most of us know that sleep is very important to maintain good health. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body comes under excess strain. This increases the chances of your developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other medical problems. However, it can be hard to get to sleep. Many people suffer from insomnia. Yet, studies have shown that practicing gratitude more often is an easy way of improving the quality of your sleep.
A study carried out into patients suffering from chronic pain and heart failure reported sleeping better when they practiced gratitude, even despite their problems, when compared with patients who were less grateful. Those who were most grateful reported being able to fall asleep more rapidly, sleep for longer, have a better quality of sleep and stay awake more easily in the daytime.
The evidence from these studies showed that gratitude helps to improve sleep because it causes people to have fewer negative thoughts at bedtime and more positive ones. It stands to reason that if you’re worried and anxious at night, your body’s stress level increases and this keeps you awake. On the other hand, if you’re focusing on things you’re thankful for, the relaxation response in the body is triggered and you can drift off more easily....
It’s clear from studies and research that feeling gratitude in your life brings a host of psychological benefits. Simply by feeling more thankful for the things that you have and experience every day, you can improve your mental state and enjoy better psychological well-being.
Around a quarter of the population will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. Depression is one of the most common and it can be seriously debilitating.
Getting professional help to treat depression can be costly and difficult. Finding the right treatment can be difficult, and often, medication doesn’t work. However, gratitude is a simple skill to practice. It has been proven to reduce depression. It is also less time-consuming, more affordable and more convenient than many traditional therapies.
Depression is a condition that has a neurochemical and psychological base. Both of these can be helped by gratitude. Gratitude causes your attention to be refocused from problems to their solutions, impacting the neurotransmitters like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin that help you to feel good. When those chemicals surge in your brain, you feel more motivated and less apathetic, helping to reduce your depression.
Gratitude reduces stress hormones and helps to manage the functions of the autonomic nervous system, thus reducing the unwanted symptoms associated with depression. Feelings of thankfulness, at a neurochemical level, are linked to increased neural modulation in the part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that is responsible for handling negative emotions such as shame and guilt. As a result, depression sufferers become more positive and happier as their brain learns how to cope with negativity in a different way....
So, now you know roughly what gratitude means, but how does it look when put into practice? In this chapter, we look at how thankfulness can manifest itself in your life.
Gratitude has strong links to life satisfaction and good mental health. People who are grateful experience more enthusiasm, love and joy. They also have better protection from emotions that have a destructive impact like bitterness, greed and envy.
Not only that, but gratitude can reduce your lifetime risk of developing a substance abuse disorder, anxiety or depression. It can also help those suffering from these issues and many other conditions find healing and closure. Being thankful helps you to understand that there is goodness out there, even if you’re suffering or uncertain.
Gratitude isn’t just an uplifting and warm feeling; it can also benefit your body. People who introduce gratitude practice into their lives cope more effectively with stress, enjoy better physical health and recover more rapidly from illnesses.
Even better, gratitude extends beyond you. When you experience gratitude, it reaches past you into your wider social circle. Gratitude has the power of inspiring others to act more kindly, and it can strengthen your bond with others around you. People who are grateful are more likely to be viewed as trustworthy, optimistic, outgoing and helpful. These are valuable characteristics that draw others to you and help you forge positive and strong relationships...
When you think of the word “gratitude” what comes to mind? Do you automatically think of saying thank you when someone holds the door open for you? Or feeling grateful when somebody gives you a birthday gift? While those thinks do come under the gratitude umbrella, this isn’t the kind of gratitude we’re talking about in this book.
Here, we’re talking about the transformative type of thankfulness that can totally change your life and give you a whole new perspective on the world.
Even if you give the idea of gratitude a little more thought than the average person, you may still fail to grasp the importance of being thankful. We hear a lot these days about being grateful – so much so, that gratitude is starting to become nothing more than just a buzz word with little or no meaning. If the whole idea of being grateful has lost all relevance to you, it’s time to look again, go back to the drawing board, and redefine the meaning of the word....