Expressing gratitude is something so simple and obvious that its importance can easily be overlooked. In fact, my own gratitude practice started quite accidentally and it wasn’t intended as a gratitude practice at all. I was writing a weekly gratitude post on my blog, because it gave me something to write about and as a means to connect with other bloggers. I wasn’t expecting anything else, so it took me completely by surprise when a few months later my whole perception of the world started changing.
I’d go about my days looking for things to be grateful for. I’d often stop my busyness to appreciate a beautiful flower or a special moment with my kids. I’d be able to find something good in any situation. Annoying happenings like a broken computer didn’t bother me anymore. I’d just think to myself, ‘Isn’t it great that I get to spend more time offline now?’.
When I looked deeper into it, it turned out that what was happening to me was normal and confirmed by science.
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Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude
Participants in gratitude research conducted by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough reported the following positive changes after engaging in a gratitude practice for just 2-9 weeks.
- Increased life satisfaction and sense of well-being.
- More positive outlook on life
- More and better quality of sleep.
- More time spent exercising.
- Less physical symptoms.
- A sense of connectedness to others.
Another study by Alex Wood, Stephen Joseph and P. Alex Linley found that grateful people are more likely to seek both emotional and practical support and cope in a positive way. They are less likely to engage in self-blaming behaviours and substance abuse.
Overall, a growing body of research supports what I have experienced firsthand. Gratitude can make you happier, healthier and more connected to yourself and the world around you.
How to get started
A simple way to start a gratitude practice is the gratitude journal. Every day before going to bed write minimum 3 things that you’re grateful for. You can also carry your journal with you and write your gratitude notes in it during the day, as you notice something you appreciate. If pen and paper are not your thing, there are a number of gratitude apps you can download for your smartphone.
Image by JamesDeMers via Pixabay.com
By Tatiana Apostolova