In this article, I would like to share some thoughts on why you should have a gratitude practice. What is gratitude, then how does it make you feel, both when you give and receive it.
Firstly, I will share the importance and power of gratitude. Then let’s discuss the benefits of setting up a gratitude journal and look at the importance of teaching your kids to think about gratitude. When you feel grateful it can have positive effects on your physical health as a result of the positive outlook that gratitude creates.
When you are grateful you to count your blessings, gratitude can reduce the effects of depression and anxiety. As a result, gratitude is a powerful positive emotion that allows you to acknowledge your good fortune in life. Gratitude is a way for you to give thanks to a higher power than yourself and to take your attention away from negative emotions.
I have included some of my favourite gratitude quotes to inspire you. Hopefully you will feel inspired to incorporate a gratitude practice in your daily life.
What are the Psychological Benefits and Health Benefits Of Gratitude?
Gratitude is characterised as a strength. It is supportive of transcendence, which is one of six virtues classified in the early 2000’s by science. To clarify, the other five virtues are: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice and temperance.
In addition, gratitude is one of twenty-four character strengths, which are subdivisions of the six virtues already mentioned.
Moreover, gratitude means to be thankful and appreciative of the actions of others. Also, the situations and experiences that bring growth, wisdom and maturity to you.
In order to be grateful, you have to be in the present moment and aware enough to notice what is happening around you.
Psychology defines three types of gratitude:
- Gratitude as an affective trait – In other words this would indicate a generally grateful disposition.
- Gratitude as a mood – This would account for fluctuations in your level of gratitude.
- Gratitude as an emotion – This is a more temporary burst of gratitude around a particular event.
I would propose that gratitude can be elevated to a state of being, if practised with consistency.
Remember, the universe does not send you people and experiences that you want it to. However, it does send you people and situations that resonate with the energetic frequency that you are. As a state of being, the energetic level of gratitude is right up there with love, awareness and peace.
If you are in the habit of being grateful, your general disposition will be positive and as a result you will be less likely to suffer under the health challenges of stress and anxiety.
The Importance of Gratitude and Cultivating Gratitude For Positive Emotions.
In order to illustrate the importance of gratitude, I would like to refer to the table called “The Map of Consciousness” for the book “Letting Go” by David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. In this table, the good doctor gives his ideas of the vibration frequencies of each of the states of being, as characterized in his fabulous book. I highly recommend you give it a read.
|Level of consciousness||Energetic Level||Emotion|
I would suggest that at the very least gratitude is a component of love, joy, peace and enlightenment. Regular prictice of gratitude will lead you to all levels from courage and above in Table 1.
Gratitude brings us together as people; it reduces the sense of separation. Therefore, When you are grateful, you feel connected. You feel certain of your place in the world. You take comfort from being included in the collective group, by way of giving and receiving. Gratitude improves your relationships and your mental health.
If practiced regularly, gratitude starts as a thought, which then becomes a mood. The mood becomes a habit, eventually the habit becomes your personality.
Why Does Feeling Gratitude Influence Us So Powerfully?
A state of gratitude affects certain areas of the brain which make us want more of, or want to move closer to experiences that we enjoy. Moreover, the neurotransmitters involved with gratitude are serotonin and probably oxytocin. To clarify, serotonin causes happiness and oxytocin promotes a feeling of belonging and community.
Scientific studies have shown that a gratitude practice supports your wellbeing by promoting happiness, joy and even awe. Similarly, gratitude adds meaning to your life too.
Studies carried out on war veterans in the United States showed that when trauma was reframed and the effects of the trauma reduced in those veterans who practiced gratitude. Studies also show that gratitude practice alters the way that the brain’s fear networks operate. Likewise, gratitude benefits social relationships across the full spectrum of work, social and self.
To be grateful you have to be present. So an effective gratitude practice will anchor you in the now and will reduce the amount of thoughts you have that are rooted in the past or anticipating the future.
The gratitude you give and you get must be genuine to be effective. Your brain will pick up whether the gratitude is sincere or not. Insincerity will cancel out the positive effects of giving or receiving gratitude.
Surprising Study Results About Gratitude.
However, one of the surprising results of the study of gratitude is that receiving gratitude from others causes more intense activation of the relevant brain circuits and consequently a more intense physiological state than just thinking of things that you are grateful for. This contradicts conventional thinking and provides an interesting dilemma.
So, if receiving gratitude from others is the best way to go, it is not very practical to wait around for others to tell us how thankful they are. Also, fishing for compliments will probably lead to resistance from others and even resentment, as you will appear to be needy and clingy and your warm welcome will evaporate quickly.
Moreover, the work done by Professor Antonio Damasio from the University of Southern California provides a solution to our dilemma. During this study, Prof Damasio conducted research into how storytelling can assist in developing an effective gratitude practice.
Subjects were told stories of people who had overcome great struggles and hardship as a result of the intervention and help from others. For example holocaust victims who were helped to escape by others told their stories and expressed their gratitude to those who helped them get through their terrible ordeals.
Surprisingly, the result of these studies showed that even listening to stories of the gratitude of others induced the same state in the subjects that were listening to the story.
Understanding the Real Importance of Gratitude.
When you are grateful, you are acknowledging that the thing you are grateful for already exists. So gratitude is an effective manifestation tool. A good example of this is the Native American rain dance. So, traditionally the rain dance is not a prayer for rain. It is a celebration for the rain that is already on its way. In other words, this illustrates the real importance of gratitude for manifesting what you want in your life.
So if you are grateful for something you want in your life, psychologically your brain believes it already exists, otherwise you would not be grateful for it. So gratitude can be a great hack to bring things that you want into your life
Examples of Effective Daily Gratitude Practice.
So based on what you have read above, there are several ways in which you can set up an effective gratitude practice.
If you have a particularly significant memory that has stuck in your mind of when someone expressed gratitude to you and it made you feel wonderful, use that as an anchor. Once a day for around 60 seconds, turn your thoughts to this memory and allow yourself to feel how you felt at the time. Use your wonderful imagination to intensify the feelings and emotions that you felt. You might want to set an alarm on your phone or make a note in your diary to remind you.
Otherwise, use a story or narrative about gratitude that evokes your emotions or that you think is special. In order to make it easier, you can break it down into bullet points to remind you of the story. Then meditate on it for around 60 seconds daily and recreate the feelings in your mind and body each time. Again try to intensify the feelings and emotions.
Most importantly, the aim in these practices is to break away from day to day thinking that excludes gratitude and to make your thoughts of gratitude habitual. Hopefully, with persistence, they will become automatic.
Make a point of expressing genuine gratitude to others in your social circle and your work circles. After all, everyone want to be appreciated and be told they have done a good job. In this way, your genuine appreciation and gratitude towards others, is more likely to come back to you and then everybody wins.
Quotes About How Gratitude Helps Us.
I would like to share a few quotes about gratitude that resonated with me. Similarly, I hope you draw inspiration from them and they encourage you with your own process.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude”.– Denis Waitley
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others”.– Marcus Tullius Cicero.
“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up”.– Eckhart Tolle.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”– John F. Kennedy.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”– Zig Ziglar.
“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.”– Will Arnett.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”– John Milton.
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”-Eileen Caddy.
How Daily Gratitude Journaling Boosts the Benefits of Practicing Gratitude.
The traditional advice around keeping a gratitude journal is to write down each day, things that you are grateful for and things that you experienced that you are grateful for.
However, I would like to suggest that you set up your gratitude journal a little differently.
When to Spend Time on Your Gratitude Journal.
A daily gratitude practice would be ideal to record before you go to sleep at night, however you may want to make notes during the day when experiences are still fresh in your mind. However, please refer to or write your experiences of gratitude last thing before you sleep.
The reason for this is that; if you go to sleep each night in a state of gratitude, you will wake up next morning in the same state. Your quality of sleep will be better and the time spent creating by your higher self, will be at a higher energetic level when you are asleep. As a result, this state of gratitude will cause you to resonate at a higher level with the quantum field of creation. Consequently, the result will be to attract more harmonious, loving people and experiences in your life. This means, the potential that you attract from the quantum field will come from the frequencies of love, joy, peace, and awareness.
What Should You Record in Your Gratitude Journal?
I would suggest that you should write down any experiences where you did something for someone else, which the expressed their gratitude to you. Consequently, you build up a history of stories that you can refer back to. You should also acknowledge the things that you are grateful for. Also, don’t forget the things you want to come into your life. Express you gratitude for these as well.
When you refer back to these stories of gratitude received, you can re-experience the feelings of accomplishment and reinforce the emotions into becoming a permanent, habitual state of being. This is a way of meditating on the gratitude of others and building a story bank without having to create gratitude by fishing for compliments as we discussed earlier.
If you want to add a section in your daily routine where you express your gratitude for things and experiences others gave to you, that can be a useful addition. Recording things that you are grateful for is not as powerful as recording the gratitude of others towards you, but it is still a necessary part of the process.
Getting Kids to Understand How Gratitude Benefits Us.
Getting our Kids to know the positive effects of gratitude is very empowering for them. As a result, it teaches them to live in a higher state of vibration, closer to love, joy, peace, awareness and community. Moreover, thinking about gratitude encourages your kids to be present and to be aware of what is happening now.
When your kids understand that the gratitude they receive for kind loving actions lifts their state, they are more likely to be kind to others and think of life as togetherness and cooperation rather than separation. Then they will come to understand that people who practice gratitude are happier. As a result, they will enjoy the social benefits of expressing gratitude to someone who has done something positive for them. Gratitude encompasses all of the blessings of life and cultivates a “glass half full” attitude rather than a “glass half empty” one.
Because of this, they will express the divine in themselves as love and community, rather than express their egoic self which manifests as fear and separation. Therefore, where fear and separation are dominant, their energetic interactions are based in shame, guilt, apathy, anger and pride.
So, as parents, you want your kids lives to be better and happier with each generation that comes and goes. In other words, if you teach them the power of a gratitude practice, their world becomes more loving, supportive and flows easily into the manifestation of love and a world we all want to share.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gratitude.
Q: What is gratitude?
A: Gratitude is an emotion, or feeling, of appreciation and thankfulness for the good things in life or the positive experiences we encounter.
Q: Why should I practice gratitude?
A: Practicing gratitude helps cultivate a sense of thankfulness in our lives. It can lead to numerous benefits, including improved mental and physical health, enhanced relationships, and overall well-being.
Q: How can gratitude help me?
A: Gratitude helps people experience positive emotions and encourages a shift in focus towards the good things in life. As a result, it can lead to greater happiness, contentment, and a more optimistic outlook.
Q: What are the benefits of practicing gratitude?
A: Research on gratitude has shown that regularly practicing gratitude can have various benefits, such as reducing stress, improving sleep quality, boosting self-esteem, enhancing resilience, and fostering better relationships with others.
Q: How do I show gratitude in my daily life?
A: There are many ways to show gratitude daily. For example, expressing appreciation to others, keeping a gratitude journal, writing gratitude letters, or simply taking a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for.
Q: What is a gratitude journal?
A: A gratitude journal is a tool where you can write down the things you are grateful for, gratitude received and stories of gratitude on a regular basis. As a result, it helps you develop an attitude of gratitude and provides a tangible record of the positive aspects of your life. Later, you can refer back to yuor journal for inspiration.
Q: How does gratitude improve health?
A: Research suggests that gratitude has a positive impact on both mental and physical health. It can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhance overall well-being, and has benefits for heart health.
Q: Can gratitude affect my relationships with others?
A: Gratitude can have a profound influence on relationships. Expressing gratitude towards others strengthens social bonds, fosters a sense of connection, and promotes a positive, appreciative attitude in interactions.
Q: Does gratitude have psychological benefits?
A: Gratitude has been found to improve overall mental health, increase happiness and life satisfaction, reduce negative emotions, and enhance resilience in the face of challenges.
Q: How does gratitude influence our well-being?
A: Gratitude influences our well-being by shifting our focus from what we lack to the abundance of goodness in our lives. As a result, it helps us appreciate the present moment, find meaning and purpose, and cultivate a positive outlook.
Q: How can I share gratitude with others?
A: Sharing gratitude can be as simple as expressing appreciation verbally or through handwritten notes. You can also participate in gratitude interventions, join a gratitude group, or engage in acts of kindness to show gratitude to others.
Q: What is the connection between gratitude and happiness?
A: Gratitude and happiness are closely linked. Grateful people tend to be happier because they have a greater awareness and appreciation of the positive aspects of their lives, leading to a sense of contentment and fulfillment.
Q: Can gratitude improve my overall well-being?
A: Yes, regularly practicing gratitude can contribute to a healthier and happier life. Moreover, it helps foster a grateful disposition, promotes positive emotions, and cultivates an attitude of appreciation for the good things in life.
Q: How does gratitude affect our mental health?
A: Gratitude has been found to have positive effects on mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhancing overall psychological well-being, and promoting a more positive mindset.
Q: What is the relationship between gratitude and mindfulness?
A: Gratitude and mindfulness are closely intertwined. Both practices involve paying attention to the present moment and cultivating an attitude of appreciation. Mindfulness can deepen our experience of gratitude, while gratitude can enhance our mindfulness practice.
Q: Can gratitude help with mental health challenges?
A: Gratitude can be a helpful tool in managing mental health challenges. It promotes positive emotions, provides a perspective shift, and fosters resilience, all of which can contribute to improved well-being in the face of difficulties.
Q: Is gratitude just an emotion or does it involve actions?
A: Gratitude is both an emotion and a practice. When these are combined, it produces a state of being. This state encompasses the feeling of gratitude as well as actively expressing it through actions such as showing appreciation, writing gratitude letters, or engaging in acts of kindness.
Q: How does gratitude impact our relationships with others?
A: Gratitude has a positive influence on relationships by fostering a sense of connection, improving communication, increasing empathy, and deepening the bonds between individuals. It enhances the overall quality of relationships with others.
Q: What does research say about gratitude?
A: Research on gratitude consistently highlights its benefits. For example, one study found that gratitude interventions, such as gratitude journaling or writing gratitude letters, have been associated with increased happiness and well-being.
Q: Can gratitude change my perspective on life?
A: Gratitude can change your perspective on life by shifting your focus from what you lack to the abundance of goodness and positive experiences. It helps you recognize and appreciate both the small and big things you have.
Q: How can gratitude improve my overall happiness?
A: Gratitude can lead to greater happiness, by cultivating a positive mindset, reducing negative emotions, enhancing satisfaction with life, and fostering a greater sense of contentment and fulfillment.
Q: What if I need some motivation to practice gratitude?
A: If you need motivation to practice gratitude, remind yourself of the positive effects it can have on your well-being and relationships. Initially, just start small, focus on gratitude for simple things, and gradually expand your practice to experience its benefits fully.
Last Words on Gratefulness.
I hope that you found something to try out in this article. Some of these ideas might be a bit different to what you have previously heard. I encourage you to give it a go and start recording your stories of gratitude received.
Meditate on the feelings you experience and see how your state of being and the quality of your experiences and emotions begins to change. I would love to hear of your experiences and your stories of gratitude. Please share in the comments section below. Your story may be exactly what someone else needs to feel better about themselves, or to take that first step to a grateful life.
With love as always
Richard H Morris.
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Nothing in this post should be interpreted as any form of professional advice. The content herein is provided for information and entertainment purposes only, and merely reflects the research done and opinions expressed by the Author. We do make use of affiliate links in our content, should you decide to buy something through one of our links we will receive a commission at no additional cost to the Purchaser.