Living in an attitude of gratitude is a powerful practice which could change your life, and it’s something that anyone can learn.
I was asked a little while ago which comes first out of happiness and gratitude. It’s definitely gratitude. You can be happy for short periods of time without being grateful but being consistently grateful creates lasting happiness. Research has found that gratitude can reduce depression, increase your energy and even help you sleep better if you think about things you’re grateful for just before you go to sleep. Focusing on what you have rather than what you don’t have re-wires your brain for happiness and gratitude is one of the key attributes of people who have an optimistic outlook on life.
Do you remember in the first lockdown period how good it felt expressing gratitude for the NHS when we all stood on our doorsteps to clap for carers?
Many of us were moved to tears by the joy and connection we felt. That’s what gratitude can do for you. Lockdown also taught us to be grateful for things we’d previously taken for granted, like hugs with relatives who don’t live with us, being able to have your hair cut whenever you wanted to, and even basic groceries in the beginning.
But as life returns to a little bit more normality it can be easy to forget to be grateful unless we make it a conscious practice.
One reason gratitude is so good for us is that if you’re feeling grateful, it isn’t possible to have a negative thought at the same time. If you’re focusing on being grateful more of the time, it means that you’re in a positive mindset more of the time, and positivity attracts positivity. Gratitude raises your energetic vibration so that you attract more of the good stuff in life more of the time.
So how do you actually go about creating a gratitude practice? One very important factor is that it isn’t just about saying “thank you” mechanically, it’s about really feeling the gratitude on a daily basis.
Some people like to post their gratitude on social media and if you want to do so privately, you can agree with a friend that you’re going to message each other the things that you’re grateful for each day. Doing it that way creates accountability so you might find it helpful if you find it hard sticking to something.
My favourite method is to keep a gratitude journal. You can treat yourself to a special journal and then make sure you write in it every day 3 things that you’re grateful for on that particular day. You need to make this a habit if you want results, just like going to the gym, so pick a time to do it which you can fit into your daily routine. Doing it once or twice won’t bring lasting changes but a proper gratitude habit will really start to pay off.
If you’re new to this you might find it hard at first. I certainly did when I started. When I sat in bed on the first evening with my new gratitude journal I wondered what on earth I was going to write about. It sounds strange now that I found it so hard but I wasn’t in a good place mentally at that time in my life and I really struggled to think of anything at first. Eventually I decided to start with the basics – the roof over my head, electric light, and my bed.
I can’t remember now what I wrote about the next night but I do remember finding it difficult as I didn’t want to just repeat things I’d written the previous night. I kept going though and before long I was finding it easy to think of more than 3 things which I wanted to record. I started actively feeling grateful as things happened during the day and I noticed that good things seemed to be happening more often. It all seemed to snowball and I noticed that I was feeling lighter about life generally. You’ll find that this will happen to you too if you keep up a conscious gratitude practice. Gratitude will become a way of life and you’ll find that you’ll feel much more positive about life generally. You’ll have raised your energetic vibration and as a result you’ll be attracting more good things towards you.