A popular concept on Facebook these days is to post a daily “Attitude of Gratitude” item. I love this because it makes us stop and think about what we have to be grateful for. There’s actually quite a large amount of scientific evidence available that people who practice gratitude as part of their lifestyle enjoy more well-being than others.
How Gratitude Affects Health
Research from the UK’s Manchester University School of Psychology turned up proof that gratitude can be a stronger indicator of health and happiness than any other character trait. A recent study showed that participants who paid a gratitude visit to someone whom they felt grateful to benefited from a significant increase in their happiness level and a corresponding drop in depression scores.
When we make practicing gratitude a part of our daily routine, it helps us achieve a life full of joy, passion and grace. Here’s how:
#1: Keep a Journal
It’s easy to forget the things we have to be grateful for, especially as we get older. Make a point of writing down three things every day, and review the journal whenever you’re feeling down. This helps to remind you of how fortunate you are. It also helps to keep you positive and inspires you when you need it. Various studies have shown that when participants recorded what they were grateful for, they achieved lasting improvement in their happiness score.
#2: Express Feelings of Appreciation
When you’re grateful for something, say so. Not only will it help the recipient of your gratitude to understand and benefit from your appreciation, but it will also help to “cement” it in your own subconscious mind. The best way to get more is to give more, and unless you show your gratitude to others they aren’t likely to show theirs to you. So it works both ways.
#3: Walk the Talk
Talking about your gratitude and appreciation is great, but you’ll benefit even more if you walk the talk. Choose someone whose actions have affected your life in a positive way and pay them a gratitude visit. Think of a way to acknowledge them specially for what they’ve done. This could be picking some wild flowers and taking them along, baking a special treat or singing outside their window. As long as your intention is to bring them unsolicited joy, you’ll both benefit.
#4: Look for the Good
There’s a saying in business that goes “Don’t look for things your staff are doing wrong; try to catch them doing something right.” You can apply this to your Attitude of Gratitude, too, by looking for opportunities to express gratitude or appreciation. Be aware of chances to acknowledge those around you, and seize those opportunities to say “thank you” to them.
#5: Remind Yourself Regularly
When life gets in the way and things become crazy, it’s easy to forget the good stuff that you have going on. That’s where your journal can come in useful. Even if you aren’t necessarily able to sit and review it, however, reminding yourself how fortunate you are and taking the time to “count your blessings” will lift your spirits and pull you out of a negative slump. And once your blood is pumping, your heart is singing and you’re at peace with the world, you’ll find you infect others the same way and the blessings will flow back to you.
Try it today. Practice an “attitude of gratitude” for a week and see how it makes you feel.