Today I want to talk to you about having a gratitude practice. Nothing but breathing and your heart beating come automatically in this life; everything else takes practice.
Why Practice Gratitude?
I don’t know why… I could tell you the science, but somehow gratitude automatically elevates the mood, and takes the focus off of us and what we’re not doing and what we’ve been given. A lot of twelve-step programs, and many spiritual communities encourage their followers to engage in gratitude or gratitude-related practices daily.
When/How to Practice Gratitude?
One of my favorite things to do before I start my morning prayers is to just take stock of all I have and write in my gratitude list. In the past, I’ve had a gratitude text chain with friends where we just texted 3-5 things we were grateful for every single day. You don’t have to write in a gratitude journal every day or start a text chain to start a gratitude practice. You don’t even have to say it out loud (although I recommend it). You can just look around the room you’re in right now and silently acknowledge the blessings God has given you. You can sit in your car for a minute and thank God that you have a car, that you have the skill to drive, and that you have all the physical health and functioning to be able to drive. Those are all blessings. Before you eat lunch, thank God for the food and all the people who had a hand in making it. The people who farmed it, the people who processed it, and the people who shipped it all the way to you.
If you already do those things, another way to practice gratitude is to get involved in your community. Volunteer at the shelter or the food bank. Donate your time more than your money.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude?
- It statistically makes people happier by over 10 percent than people who don’t practice it. Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005
- Increases self-esteem (Rash, Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011)
- Improves symptoms related to work stress (Cheng, Tsui, & Lam, 2015).
- Helps you sleep (Jackowska, Brown, Ronaldson, & Steptoe, 2016)
- Increases your resilience (“A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11.” quoted from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude )
Go out there and enjoy the day! And remember to practice gratitude. Afterall, Practice makes perfect.