How to Reap the Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude sits in a unique position where spiritual and scientific communities alike have shared interest. For eons, gratitude has been known to improve mental, physical and spiritual health, and science is recently starting to explain why this is the case (I write more on this and the benefits of gratitude in my post here). Ok, so there is no doubt that gratitude is pretty awesome, but that still doesn’t help with learning how to become more grateful. This post is dedicated to providing easy to implement tools that can bring more gratitude to your day.
The key to achieving the full benefit of gratitude is to make it a habit. It needs to be a part of your day, no different than brushing your teeth, or – if you are truly heroic – flossing. The following steps are quick methods to incorporate gratitude in your daily routine that even the most disbelieving, ungrateful shmuck could get behind:
1. Book End Your Day With Gratitude
Think of one thing you are grateful for immediately upon waking, and again just before sleeping. Gratitude should be the first and last emotion you feel each day. Time required: 30 – 60 seconds per day.
2. Gratitude Journal
I like to incorporate gratitude into my morning journal. Every morning I write and reflect on three things I am grateful for. I try to keep them different every day, and I ensure one of the gratitude’s is something simple (coffee, a pen, my couch, etc.) to remind me that there is always something to be thankful for. Time required: as little as 2 minutes per day.
3. Replace Complaints With Gratitude
This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation; “I wish I had more money” can easily become “I am thankful I have enough money”. It sounds ridiculous, but this simple act will change your thought process. This technique is one of many I have taken from Gretchin Rubin, happiness expert and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Happiness Project”. For more, check out this NBC article.
To put this into practice, Ashleigh and I have agreed to call each other out each time we complain. As frustrating as it is to have someone point out your mistakes, the accountability has caused me to complain less often. Time required: Depends on how often you complain… Hopefully less than a few minutes a day.
In the short term, exercising releases endorphins which cause you to feel good. In the longer term, exercising gives you a sense of accomplishment, better health, and an improved self-esteem. Time required: This is potentially the biggest time commitment, but as little as 20 minutes 3 times a week will have a positive impact. My rule is if it hurts a little and causes me to sweat, I am probably benefiting. I am not a personal trainer or physician, so do what works for you.
A core concept of meditation is present awareness training. By not comparing the current moment to how something was in the past or how it could be in the future will completely change your perspective and will allow you to see the clear sky between the clouds – which is where I like to think gratitude lies. I have incorporated meditation into my daily routine and have noticed positive shifts that are incomparable to any other one thing I have experimented with (I will leave that for a future post though). Time required: 20 minutes a day is ideal, but I have personally noticed massive improvements with as little as 10 minutes per day. Trust me, the time commitment is worthwhile.
I encourage you to try adding even one of the tools detailed above to your routine. Too many of us are wielding the blunt force of a hammer in most emotional situations, but sometimes a bit more precision is required if you want to see results.
Gratitude has become a positive addiction in my life which I have no intention of shaking. My gratitude practice may still be far from perfect, but by making a few simple daily shifts toward consciously being grateful, I have experienced an exponential increase in happiness. And to ensure I stay on track – I want to thank you for reading; I am grateful I was able to share this.