Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful. It's most commonly emphasized during the month of November in the midst of the arrival of Thanksgiving, but it should be embraced year-round. Negative emotions like worry, doubt, complaining, etc can take front and center in the day to day of most people's lives. Practicing gratitude takes the backseat. When you really think about it, how often do we dedicate time to reflect and appreciate the blessings in our lives? All of the good things, even the little things?
If you're looking for a shift in your attitude, happiness, and attraction of positivity in your life - practicing the power of gratitude may be the ideal start.
The Science Of Gratitude
Gratitude is arguably, the “ultimate positive emotion". Gratitude is strongly associated with different aspects of psychological and physical well-being. According to research, grateful people have more positive emotion, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, pleasant feelings, empathy, generosity, and less depression and stress.
In her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, Sonja Lyubomirsky discusses eight ways gratitude boosts happiness:
- Gratitude promotes savoring positive life experiences.
- Gratitude may increase a sense of confidence and self-worth, by encouraging you to consider what you value about your current life.
- Gratitude helps you cope with difficulties.
- Gratitude encourages kindness and other moral behavior.
- Gratitude helps strengthen relationships.
- Gratitude inhibits envy.
- Gratitude helps undermine negative emotions.
- Gratitude keeps us from taking the good things for granted.
The Power Of Shifting Your Thoughts
How often do you inadvertently create negative situations in your mind and thought patterns, without ever considering the positive outlook? For example, as women age, we have been conditioned to feel negative about “getting older" or saying goodbye to our “glory days". I began to adopt this habit during my mid-twenties when I honestly felt I had no other life-changing milestones to look forward to. I remember incessantly complaining about reaching my mid-twenties a few years ago, but what changed my thought pattern around this negative emotion was my mother.
At almost 60 years old, she has always proudly professed her age and celebrates aging each year with gratitude. It reveals how she feels about herself, healthy, vibrant, and beautiful. She conditioned her mind to correlate birthdays with gratitude because of a very important notion my grandmother taught her when she was a young adult.“Birthdays are a blessing. God granted you another year to live in your fullness. Every day and every year you grow older is a gift from God that is unfortunately not granted to everyone."
Can you see how this very small shift in the context of your thoughts and expression can inspire you to view the positivity in a certain circumstance?
The 21-Day Gratitude Challenge
Practicing daily gratitude is a positive psychological intervention you can work towards incorporating in your daily lifestyle. It requires very little commitment, just simply a shift in your attitude and deliberate mindfulness. It begins with looking at all situations whether good or bad from a positive perspective. Will you begin to look at the glass as half full or half empty? Looking at the glass as half-full will allow you to discover unforeseen opportunities, benefits, and positive outlooks for any situation.
Your inspiration to practice gratitude can be derived from a religious or spiritual context. One persistent theme within the power of gratitude is “appreciating what you have in order to attract more". Your positive energy will shift, therefore your positive energy and outcomes will shift too.
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