There are so many benefits of gratitude.
Gratitude sends happiness chemicals to your brain, which in turn soothes your nervous system. And when your nervous system is at ease, you are able to make better choices in all areas of your life.
Even when life feels messy or awkward or painful, there is always something or someone to be grateful for.
I discovered this first hand back in 2011. I came across 365 Grateful and was wowed by Hailey Bartholomew’s stories about the positive effect and benefits of gratitude. Like Bartholomew, I was struggling and started my own 365 Grateful project as an attempt to reassure myself that my life wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Each day I identified and documented the people, experiences and things which made my life better, more comfortable, more joyful.
At times this project was a joy, at other times it was tedious beyond belief!
More recently, a psychologist suggested that on days when gratitude seems like a struggle, rather than trying to identify the best things, pinpoint the least shitty or least mundane moments of your day.
I am alive
I have clothes to wear
I have running water
I have food to eat
The sun is shining
It doesn’t matter how small, how seemingly trivial. Gratitude, in all its forms, has a positive neurological impact.
A gratitude practice reminds us that we are so much more than the everyday hustle and bustle we often find ourselves in. It reminds us that we are part of something ‘bigger’.
But it is something you have to practise consistently because gratitude is a muscle. The more you cultivate gratitude, the easier it becomes.
So, how do you practice gratitude and reap the benefits of gratitude?
I love practicing gratitude in the morning because it sets the tone of my day. It only takes me a couple of minutes to list three things I’m grateful in my journal and, when I do, I’m more likely to notice and appreciate small things as I go about the day.
You may prefer to mentally list the things you’re grateful for at the end of each day before you drift off to sleep.
Here are some prompts to get the juices flowing:
List 3 people, things or experiences you are grateful for right now
List 3 things you are grateful for but take for granted
List 3 people or things which make your life easier or more comfortable
List 3 things you are grateful for about yourself
List 3 things you achieved or learned today
Look around the room and write about everything you see that you’re grateful for
Identify something you grateful to have today that you didn’t have a year ago
List 3 activities that bring you joy
List 3 things that made you smile today
Be specific but don’t agonise over whether it’s right or wrong! When you commit to a regular gratitude practice, the things you have to be grateful will seemingly multiply.