Benefits of Gratitude

#ShareYourGratitude :: What are you grateful for?

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“Feeling gratitude & not expressing it is like wrapping a present & not giving it.”

~William Arthur Ward

Now you may be thinking, all that sounds fantastic, but I don’t really get this whole gratitude thing. I mean, we know gratitude is good. We know that we should be grateful. Here on the blog I’ve mentioned that I make daily gratitude lists. But I’ve never really touched on what gratitude is or how to go about getting it.

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude is an emotion in which one notices & appreciates the positive in the world. It’s characterized by expressing an appreciation for what one already has rather than focusing on what one wants.

Robert Emmons, a widely known scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude as having two main components. The first is that we affirm there are good things in the world. Second is that we recognize the source of this goodness is outside ourselves {stemming from other people or a higher power, if you believe in one}.

Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude boosts serotonin & dopamine levels. And studies show that we don’t have to actually find something to be grateful for to receive its benefits {but surely we can}. It’s in the searching that counts.

Gratitude increases happiness. It makes us more resilient & optimistic. Less envious, materialistic, & self-centered. It improves sleep, energy, overall well-being, physical & psychological health. Gratitude reduces the risk of anxiety & depression. It strengthens relationships & makes us more likable. It has been linked to “a life lived to the fullest” & living authentically.

Studies have shown that gratitude may play an integral part in overcoming trauma, “post-traumatic growth.” One study found evidence of this following the September 11 attacks in 2001. Researchers found that gratitude increased over this time, in both adults & children. Thus enabling them to keep functioning. They concluded that gratitude is a key aspect of post-traumatic growth.

How to Practice Gratitude

» Also Read: 15 Simple Ways to Cultivate Gratitude (+ free download) «

Gratitude requires humility, which is the modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~C.S. Lewis

  • Make a Gratitude List or Jar or Calendar or Journal {you get the point}: You can get creative with it or simply jot down five things you’re thankful for every morning. Be sure to change them up from day-to-day. They can be simple too. Sometimes simple is better! I’ve found that this simple practice helps set the tone for my entire day.
  • But gratitude lists can be made anywhere & at anytime. I’ve found them especially helpful in hot-headed moments. Making a quick gratitude list in my head centers & grounds me. It reminds me of what’s truly important. Nine times out of ten, what I’m upset about is not worth the amount of energy I’m giving it.

  • Share It at the Dinner Table: Turn it into a family ritual where each family member shares their appreciation. What a great thing to pass down to our children.
  • Practice mindfulness: We’re more likely to notice the little things that make our daily lives awesome when we stay in the moment. And it really is the little things that make life so enjoyable. Make a point to notice the smallest of things today & ask yourself how they make your life better or easier.
  • Imagine What You Would Miss the Most: This may sound morbid but tomorrow’s not guaranteed. We have a tendency to take things & even each other for granted. Imagine your life without. What pop’s out at you? Often, those maddening quirks in someone’s personality are the very things we’d miss the most.
  • Give a genuine compliment: If you can’t be genuine, then don’t pay the compliment at all.
  • Say thank you: Seems simple. But with our busy lives sometimes we forget to genuinely thank our barista, for example, as we’re rushing out of the coffee shop.
  • Try not to complain: It’s startling how much we complain & don’t even realize it. Try to go a whole day or week without doing so.
  • Do something nice for someone: This requires us to get outside ourselves – humility. The thing is, we receive a pay-off too. We feel great after doing something for someone else, as it raises dopamine levels.

I hold a gratitude practice every Friday on The Sunny Shadow’s Facebook page. You’ll see a pinned post referencing Gratitude and I hope you’ll join me in sharing at least one thing you’re grateful for that day. This post will remain pinned to the top of The Sunny Shadow Facebook page throughout the weekend. {Don’t forget to like my Facebook page while you’re there =-}

The reason I’ve chosen Friday rather than Monday is simple! I think we put too much emphasis on starting the work week off well & forget about the time we spend with the most important people in our lives → The Weekend! Starting our weekends from a place of gratitude will help us in numerous ways! It will center us, ground us, & humble us. It will put life into perspective, reminding us of what’s truly important.

We’re much more likely to be our best selves for the people we love most. We’re less likely to get into petty arguments. And little things won’t easily rile us.

You can also #ShareYourGratitude on Twitter and Instagram.

Hope to see you Friday at The Sunny Shadow Facebook page! And #ShareYourGratitude on Twitter too!

Sources: Greater Good, Gratitude and Well-being: A review and theoretical integration {Wood, Froh, Geraghty, 2010}

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer :: Blogger & Creator of The Sunny Shadow

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