At its essence, gratitude is feeling joy for the blessings in life. Gratitude encompasses everything, including people, states of being, feelings, material possessions, opportunities, and emotions.
Actively practicing gratitude fosters a mindset of positive thinking, and this can greatly improve mental and physical health. Being grateful helps us focus on the good and gives us energy and confidence. This, in turn, leads to a healthier mind, body, and spirit – creating a beautiful cycle.
Gratitude Eases Negative Thinking Patterns
Gratitude is also the antidote to negative thinking loops that reduce hope and happiness. People who dwell on the negative aspects in their lives can find it difficult to reach and maintain a state of contentment.
Excessive negative emotions put our mental and physical health at risk. This is not to say negative emotions should be overlooked or ignored, but obsessive or continuous negative thinking is hazardous to the mind and the body.
Gratitude, when practiced daily, enhances hope, increases physical and mental wellbeing, and helps overcome the more difficult times we all face. Practicing gratitude helps us look outward, to all the wonderful things that surround us, rather than keeping focus strictly inward, which can lead to feelings of negativity and despair.
Gratitude is a Practice, Not Just an Emotion
Gratitude is a state of mind, of course, but to fully experience the positive impact gratitude can have on our lives we need to practice gratitude in our daily lives.
Nurturing a gratitude practice is simple and can be woven into day-to-day life. It starts with a mindset shift, and a concerted effort to think more positively.
This may not feel easy at first, or when times are particularly trying, but this is when we need gratitude the most and when it is most impactful. If we practice gratitude in our daily lives, it will be there intuitively when times get tough.
Here are some simple ways to practice gratitude every day:
- Take a Moment: A gratitude practice can start with small things, like appreciating a beautiful, sunny day, fresh air, a nice meal, or conversation with a good friend. Take moments out of your day to pause and actively think of the things that you are grateful for, and this mindset will begin to come more naturally.
- Start a Gratitude Journal: Another useful tool to build a gratitude practice is to start a daily gratitude list. Pick a time of day that works – maybe first thing or before bed at night – and write down at least five things you are grateful for. These may be smaller things at first, if the bigger things in your life are too much, like a warm blanket, a good dessert, or snuggles from a dog. When times are rough we can look back on these lists and see that despite challenges, we have a lot of blessings as well.
- Do Things for Others: Doing things for others helps us get out of our own heads and cultivates gratitude that we can give back. Volunteer for a cause or spend time with someone who needs help to get some perspective. Spending with animals and children, who are naturally more grateful, can help us live in the present moment.
- Build Community: Become part of a community focused on wellness, like a fitness, spiritual, or support group. Fostering connections with people helps build gratitude and provides access people to talk to when things are tougher.
- Meditation: Start a meditation practice that cultivates loving-kindness. Meditating on the positive aspects of life and sending goodwill towards others is a great tool for enhancing gratitude.
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Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Alliance Labs, LLC and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2020 Summit Pharmaceuticals and Alliance Labs, LLC.