Today is Thanksgiving, which makes it the perfect day to discuss the power of gratitude. Though Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder to be grateful and share what we’re thankful for with others, gratitude is something that should be practiced daily.
By making gratitude a daily practice, you’re able to find more joy in life no matter how hard things can get. Gratitude is much more than just being grateful for what you have. If you look deeper, gratitude is a state of mind and has many healing powers that are often overlooked.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an affirmation of the goodness in life and is an act of habitually identifying where goodness is coming from — whether it’s from a spiritual force or given by people in your life. Gratitude is a state of mind and a way of life, more than tje behavior of showing appreciation.
Why is gratitude important?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s shown us the power of focusing on the good in order to thrive. Gratitude became a way to emotionally survive during a time that has been so hard on so many of us.
Many people have also shared with me that despite challenging times, 2020 has led them to start living a more meaningful life by being forced to focus on what matters the most and taking this time to make must-needed changes to their overall attitude and behaviors.
The science of gratitude
According to leading gratitude expert, Robert Emmons, research has shown that gratitude has the power to heal, energize, and change people’s lives. That’s powerful. For people who have had long-term challenging life, learning the power of gratitude offers healing powers that can mend past wounds and induce hope and inspiration to courageously move forward with a positive outlook.
The link between gratitude and happiness
By practicing gratitude daily, people have shown to have more joy and pleasure in their lives. Though things can get tough, people who are often grateful have a more optimistic outlook. Even through hard times, they look at life as a gift, rather than a burden. Being grateful can bring on a higher level of positive thinking, which ultimately leads to more happiness.
How gratitude impacts mental health
Gratitude is less of an emotion and more of a state of mind that allows people to focus on the good in life and less on the bad. This leads to stronger emotional intelligence since people have a more grateful approach to life and are able to treasure emotions, good and bad, and see the meaning in them. When it comes to emotions, grateful people appreciate the different emotions they feel. They feel alive and inspired by their emotion, rather than always feeling overwhelmed by them.
For highly sensitive people (HSPs) who feel emotions on a deeper level, showing gratitude towards are emotions is a great way to look at them as our biggest strength. With our deep emotions, we’re able to emphasize with others, show more compassion, have a strong intuition, and be able to see color in life, even when life get hard.
How to practice gratitude every day
Practicing gratitude is not just about saying thanks when someone does something generous for you (although it’s a part of it), but it’s also about learning to be grateful for both the good and the bad. Remembering the bad and hard times you’ve experienced in the past or even currently also has been proven to strengthen our level of gratitude by finding appreciation in the bad things and acknowledging when good things do happen to us.
How to start a gratitude journal
To practice gratitude every day, it’s important to learn how to rewire your brain to focus on seeing what’s good in life. The simplest way is to start a gratitude journal.
Keeping a journal is a great gratitude meditation practice as it helps to focus your brain on what’s good. There are many self-help journals on the market today that help you make gratitude a daily practice. But you don’t need a fancy journal to make gratitude a habit. By simply getting into the habit of journaling daily and writing down what you’re grateful for, you will soon find that you’ll naturally start to healed from past hurts and feel more joy.
If you need some prompts to help you get started, you can reflect on the following questions:
- What have I received from [a person or a spiritual force]?
- What have I given to [someone else]?
- What troubles and difficulty have I caused?
This meditation practice is known as ‘Naikan,’ a method of self-reflection developed by Japanese businessman Yoshimoto Ishin. Since NAI means ‘inside’ and KAN means ‘looking’, together, the term stands for “self-reflection” or “introspection.” This self-reflection practice has helped people prevent rumination in their heads, and instead find clarity and ways to solve challenging problems.
The level of gratitude can be looked at on a spectrum. Finding gratitude can be as big as being thankful for being alive to celebrating the small things like being grateful for someone’s random act of kindness.
I’m thankful to have a forum to write about what I love and to help others. I’m thankful for what 2020 has taught me. What are you thankful for?