The Benefits of a Daily Gratitude Practice
There are innumerable benefits of a daily gratitude practice. For example, benefits include positive impacts on your body and mind. Furthermore, grateful thoughts lead to increased well-being, improved brain function, decreased stress, and greater positivity in life.
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart
On my spiritual journey, I made a simple but profound discovery. Feelings of gratitude are the most transformative emotions in my life. This is because gratitude brings you into the present moment. When you allow yourself to feel gratitude regardless of what is going on, it is a powerful way to change your life. When you can focus on the moment right now and feel thankful, you expand and grow.
Gratitude is associated with higher levels of happiness in positive psychology research.
Practicing gratitude fuels positive outcomes. For instance, when you relish good experiences you are more likely to improve your health. In addition, you will also cope with adversity in a more resilient manner, and build stronger relationships.
Positive emotions are generated by grateful responses to life. When you feel grateful, higher levels of optimism and connection result. Not only does compassion increase. But also, you become more vibrant and whole.
You actually open new pathways in your brain by focusing on grateful thoughts.
In the same way that our muscles get stronger with regular exercise, grateful thoughts can trigger new neural pathways in our brain. Furthermore, the neural circuitry in our brainstem releases dopamine. And, dopamine makes us feel great. It triggers optimism and positive emotions.
How Grateful Are You?
You can take a quiz to discover how grateful you are. And then, reviewing the results of your quiz can help you promote even more gratitude in your life. This quiz was based on a scale developed by psychologists Mitchel Adler and Nancy Fagley.
Gratitude Benefits Mind and Body
When you focus on gratitude, messenger molecules transmit positive effects to your body’s 100 trillion cells. The practice of gratitude points our body/mind system toward greater balance and health.
With greater balance, more positivity flows. Our arteries expand when we exercise. In the same fashion, our optimism and resilience are strengthened as we make gratitude part of our daily life.
By activating this mind/body connection you can shift. You move from negative states like anxiety and depression into more positive states.
Gratitude spurs positive input to our body and mind. Then, this input leads to improved physical and mental well-being. More importantly, coming from a grateful mindset leads to even more positivity.
Larry Senn, the author of the book The Mood Elevator, describes it. He says that gratitude is the express button on the mood elevator. It can immediately shift our mood from negative to neutral to positive.
Gratitude is a vital catalyst for fulfillment in life.
We all seek meaning and purpose. Many spiritual teachers explain. First, appreciate what you have in life. Then, that appreciation will attract even more good things to you. As a result, you live in the virtuous flow of giving and receiving. Practicing gratitude opens us up to even greater abundance and evokes a feeling of deep peace.
When you focus on gratitude, you notice and are thankful for the things in your life. In other words, you don’t take things for granted. You savor and relive positive and peak moments.
When we invite the energy of gratitude into our lives, we become alchemists, turning darkness into light, scarcity into abundance, and fear into love. Deepak Chopra
When we are thankful, we are open and accepting of life as it is. Though our current situation may be perfectly imperfect, we can always pause to reflect with gratitude on the gift of life itself.
We have all been blessed with the opportunity to be here.
We have an opportunity to learn, grow, love, create and live. To find our purpose and make a difference. These types of thoughts inspire me to thank the universe. And, that generates greater fulfillment.
Gratitude improves relationships
In addition to the physical and emotional benefits of gratitude, it can also help you improve your relationships. This includes friendships and romantic relationships.
How can gratitude benefit your relationships? Author David Gibson explains. Gratitude is a vital attitude in a strong marriage. He cites a recent study of couples married an average of 20 years.
The study found that grateful feelings impacted the strength of the marriage.
When one spouse feels grateful for the relationship, the other spouse experiences satisfaction too. “Specifically, individuals who reported feeling higher levels of gratitude had spouses who were happier with their marriage,” the study says.
Interestingly, the study indicates that a spouse’s inward feelings of gratitude were significant.
These felt emotions of gratitude were even more predictive than outward expressions. In other words, one spouse’s inner sense of satisfaction greatly impacts the other spouse.
By the same token, those who are inwardly grateful tend to express their gratitude outwardly, according to the study.
These findings impact friendships in the same way. How often do you stop to express thanks to the friends in your life?
The practice of seeking things out to be grateful for in our relationships is something we can all learn to do.
Research by John Gottman and Robert Levenson reveals more. Happy relationships include humor, appreciation, forgiveness, and emotional disclosure. The lessons seem clear. The more you give and express appreciation, the more you yourself enjoy the relationship.
Gratitude Tools and Practices
There are many ways you can feel and express gratitude. Making gratitude a daily focus will assist you in generating even more positivity in your life. Two easy ways you can bring gratitude into daily life are by counting your blessings and journaling.
Count your Blessings
If you are like me, you had parents and grandparents who taught you to notice the good things in your life. Maybe you were taught to count your blessings or note good things that happened that day in your nightly prayers. When we say thank you for what we have, we are transformed by appreciation.
These values we were taught as children hold profound meaning, Although we all have troubles, if we stop and think, the blessings outweigh our troubles.
Furthermore, many daily luxuries can truly be considered blessings. Things like the ability to breathe, clean water to drink, the experience of our senses. Having a home to live in, the steady beat of your heart, healthy food to eat, and the love of those around you. All of these simple things in life come to you effortlessly. And yet, with a broader perspective, we can consider them to be miraculous.
Three good things
One tool that many people use in a daily gratitude practice is writing or journaling. This reminds you to think about and savor the good things in your life. One such practice is the three good things exercise. It’s quick and easy. You simply take a moment to identify three good things that happened that day. Noticing daily life, even the simplest of things creates a ripple of appreciation that radiates out and seems to generate even more abundance in your life.
Perhaps you took a walk, experienced nature, and smelled some flowers. Or caught up with a friend. Shared a hug. Smiled at your neighbor. Citing three good things from the day is an exercise you can do with friends, as a couple, or with your family as you gather for a meal.
Gratitude Art Journaling
In the SoulArt series of classes, we learn that the more you make gratitude part of your day-to-day life, the more likely you are to find positivity and daily joy and generosity coming from and to you.
Keeping a gratitude journal makes this tangible. Some of our soul artists include photos, images, and names of people and things they are grateful for.
This enlivens a virtuous cycle; the more you are grateful for, the more will be given to you in life to be grateful for.
Some create beautiful gratitude mandalas, collages, or assemblage pages. Many collage favorite quotes about gratitude into their journals. When you express gratitude in this way, you are led to the experience of your own generosity and wonder.
You can think of your art journal as your container or repository for blessings. This awakens your heart to new things and increases your sense of abundance.
In addition, you are making your gratitude visible. That visibility helps you affirm what is good in your life. You are bringing to consciousness what nourishes and supports you.
In conclusion, making gratitude a stronger focus in your life can bring a multitude of benefits. Not only in mind, and body, but also in happiness, relationships, compassion, and wholeness.
Beginning or deepening a daily practice can spur exciting inner transformation. This allows you to spend even more time at your best.
If you would like to explore a greater focus on gratitude in your life, I recommend taking the SoulArt Meditation course. Soul Artists find greater meaning, purpose, joy, and gratitude in life. And, we share tips and ideas with one another in a supportive community.
Thanks to Kathy Kellum for the gratitude art journal image.