It’s Not Happy People Who Are Grateful, It’s Grateful People Who Are Happy.
Do you have some sort of gratitude routine that you try to practice on a regular basis?
If you don’t, this week’s message is going to have you running to a piece of paper and pen to start making your gratitude list ASAP.
When I started making daily gratitude a part of my routine, so many things started to change. My body got healthier, my relationships improved, my business grew, I earned more money, and the list goes on.
It might sound a little “woo woo” to you, but trust me when I say, this stuff works. ANDDD it’s backed up by science, so for those of you skeptics out there, sink your teeth into some of this research I’m about to share.
As always, I aim to serve you and leave you with valuable tips that you can begin implementing NOW – so this email will give you all you need to get started on your very own gratitude routine in hopes that you will reap its many benefits.
Having a Mindset Focused on Thankfulness
In doing my research on this topic, I came across numerous studies that fascinated me and really solidified my belief in this practice.
Studies show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%.
This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point.
If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.
Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude.
He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”
Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted.
Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations.
Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.
Tips To Implement NOW
Being grateful can reduce stress.
Can it really be that easy? Can being thankful for what you have make you happier?
Research says yes. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and improve your relationships.
Gratitude is paying attention to what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. It is finding satisfaction from what is around you and paying attention to the people, situations and things that make your life worthwhile.
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, in his book, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, there are three stages of gratitude: recognizing what you are grateful for, acknowledging it and appreciating it.
The following are ten ways you can start incorporating gratitude into your life today:
Use a Gratitude Box – Place two boxes on your kitchen table – one for complaints and one for things you are thankful for. Whenever you have a complaint about anything in your life, write it down and put it in the complaint box. But, for each complaint, write down to gratitude slips and place in the gratitude box. Each day, whether you wrote down a complaint or not, fill out two slips for the gratitude box. Keep it up for at least one month and see if you notice that you are automatically finding things to be grateful for each day instead of finding reasons to complain.
Create a Gratitude Journal – Use a journal with a personalized cover, a notebook or your phone (there are a number of gratitude journal apps) and write down three things you are grateful for each day. Push yourself to do this every day, no matter how you feel. Make a commitment to write down three things each day for 30 days.
Take a Five Minute Break – Practice deep breathing and remind yourself of what you are grateful for. If you feel stressed because of work, the kids or a fight with your spouse, stop what you are doing, sit down, take several deep breaths (feel your abdomen fill up) and relax. Think about three things that make your life worthwhile.
Remember Difficult Times from the Past – You might take your life today for granted but chances are you have been through some difficult times that have shaped the person you are today. Remembering how far you have come and all that you have overcome can help you remember how much you have to be thankful for today.
Use Inspirational Quotes – Are you having a hard time sitting down and purposely thinking of what makes you grateful? Some people prefer to use inspirational quotes as their motivation for appreciating the world around them. Search online for quotes that fit your situation and take a few moments each day to reflect on the quotes you chose.
Create a Gratitude Board – Hang a bulletin board in a place you will see it everyday. Each day write down (or post a picture) of something you are grateful for or something that went right in your life. As you post it, review what you have posted on previous days to remind yourself how much in your life you are thankful for.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts – How often do you use negative words or complain about something or someone in your mind? Pay attention and when you catch yourself doing this, try to turn the thought around to something positive. If it helps, keep a notebook with a line drawn down the middle of the page. On the left side, write down your negative thought. On the right side, write a more positive way of looking at the situation.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others -. When you compare what you have, how you look or anything else to others, you often come up short. Remember that you are not here to measure up to someone else, you are here to be the best you can be. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop and reword your thought to show your appreciation to everything wonderful that is you!
Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness is living completely in the present moment. It helps you stay focused and calm. It shuts out worries about the future or regrets and heartaches of the past. It reminds you that “this moment” is the most important moment and the only one that matters. Use mindfulness exercises every day to help relieve stress and refocus your thoughts.
Tell People Thank You – Gratitude can be the most wonderful gift you give yourself and others. Say “Thank you” to the people in your life you are grateful for. Let them know what they mean to you. Not only will you make their day, you will feel uplifted for having shared your gratitude.
Research Shows Gratitude Enhances the Quality of Life
Behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.
Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being.
The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries.
The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.
In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives.
There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort.
Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.
Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective.
When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”
Personally, I love using gratitude practices when it comes to food and weight loss. I teach my clients that in order to release the weight and get past the blocks that are keeping you unhealthy and unhappy, you must first find a way to love yourself and be thankful for where you’re at right now.
I know, you might be thinking, “How can I be thankful for my body when it’s so out of shape, unhealthy, and I hate how I look?” Well,
Kathrin, the thing is, you didn’t get to this place by accident. You didn’t just wake up one day and you were like this. It took years of poor eating, lack of exercise, daily stressors, and a whole host of other things you probably have put your body through to get you to this place.
But your body has carried you THIS FAR and has served you your entire life. Your body has kept you alive. It may have given you children, or been through major surgeries, or overcome disease! Your body is strong and it was made perfectly. It’s us that mess up the works when we don’t take care of it.
The good news is that you can change that. You don’t have to continue down this path and just accept your current circumstances. True power is found when we take what we have and seek to better it without blaming anyone or anything. It’s in taking full responsibility for where you are RIGHT NOW.