People who practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more energetic, sleep better, exhibit more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.
Gratitude doesn’t have to be reserved for significant life events. You can practice gratitude for small things as well. Research conducted by psychologist Robert Emmons shows that simply keeping a journal of gratitude by writing brief reflections of things we are grateful for or thankful for can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
Look for new ways to be grateful
The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for every day. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we see situations by adjusting our focus. While you might always be thankful for food and friendship, just writing “I’m grateful for food and for my friends” each week doesn’t keep your brain on alert for new moments of gratitude. Be specific by writing things such as “My husband handled the children’s bedtime routine so that I could rest”, “Our neighbors invited us for dinner and I didn’t have to cook!” or “I was able to get a great night of rest”. Try your best to think of moments that aren’t obvious. Opening your heart and mind to things that surround you can deeply enhance your practice of gratitude.
Take time to personally reflect on the most trying and difficult moments in your life. These moments may be personal loss, sadness, or other challenging circumstances. Now, notice that here you are in the present, with the ability to remember that you made it through those times. You made it through the trial. Emmons says “Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial “happiology”. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels to practice gratitude.”
The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them that we call them ordinary things.”- Hans Christian Anderson