Tapping Into the Power of Gratitude

Grateful young woman with her hands to her heart standing outdoors in an town square smiling up to the sky.

Practicing gratitude can lead to many benefits. (Image: Mheim301165 via Dreamstime)

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been promoted for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness in improving overall health. They suggest that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain.

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So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone, or lacking in our lives.

For gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a word used around events like Christmas or birthdays. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time. That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense.

When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing. Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: sunshine, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, or butterflies. What’s on your list?

There are many things have gratitude for: sunshine, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, and so much more.
There are many things to be grateful for: sunshine, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, and so much more. (Image: MoneyforCoffee via Pixabay)

Some ways to practice gratitude

• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly, or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

• Say thanks to everyone you come across in your day and notice how many faces light up. Even if they don’t, you’ll feel the peace inside by knowing you’re sharing goodness.

• Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

• Practice it around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

• Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

• When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

• Notice how it is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, and express thanks for it. As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

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