When you carry gratitude in your heart, emotions like fear, anger, and despair evaporate into thin air. You don’t hold grudges toward anyone or hatred for your circumstances. With gratitude, you can find happiness and solace, even in the toughest of times. For its healing touch, experts around the world advise people to practice gratitude, to stay in touch with reality, and with the many gifts of life.
According to a study conducted by Emmons & McCullough, where participants were asked to keep a gratitude journal: “Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events”. Call gratitude a medicine created by nature that not only polishes your outlook towards life but also keeps you healthy.
The parallels between gratitude and our health were drawn by the experts at UC San Diego School of Medicine in their research. Talking about people who practice gratitude daily, the study’s author, Paul J Mills says, “They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue and they slept better. When I am more grateful, I feel more connected with myself and with my environment. That’s the opposite of what stress does.”
Like any positive habit, gratitude takes conscious efforts and daily practice to become a part of your everyday life. Here are nine simple ways you can practice gratitude daily, to give your life a new shape and meaning.
Ask yourself introspective questions
To practice gratitude, ask yourself some introspective questions. For instance, ‘Did I say thank you where it was due?’ ‘What are the things I should be grateful for today?’ ‘Am I enjoying every moment of my life? When you ask such questions, you get clarity on what you should do and what you shouldn’t. Because often, we forget about all the good things in our lives, while chasing the great things we aspire to achieve. Asking yourself these introspective questions is a way to live in the present and be grateful for things you tend to overlook.
Keep a gratitude journal
Create a list of things you are grateful for in life. Whether it’s something as big as getting a promotion or as small as listening to your favourite music, write down everything that made you smile and feel warm inside. This is one of the best ways to practice gratitude. Don’t forget to update this list everyday. You’d be surprised to see how peaceful and stress-free you will feel daily.
Volunteer to help others
When you volunteer for a cause, you reciprocate the kindness you have received from others. It’s one way of giving back to your community and connect with lives you didn’t know before.
Volunteering doesn’t always mean joining the Red Cross or the UN to help people in a war-torn country. You can take part in cleaning your streets, picking up plastic bottles on the beach, or collect food supplies for homeless people. Any volunteering work, big or small, can fill you with gratitude, and compassion for others.
Share your happiness with others
Just like love, gratitude grows when it is shared with others. From small victories to big triumphs, share your gratitude for every achievement with your friends and family. Let them know how thankful you are for their love and support. When you do this, an inexplicable feeling of joy envelopes you, which makes you believe you are not alone in life. You have people who are there for you at every corner of life. This feeling alone is a powerful impetus to do more, win more, and celebrate more.
Learn gratitude meditation
When it comes to meditation, gratitude meditation is the easiest one to practice as you don’t need a dedicated space or environment to do so. You can practice this while taking a walk or lying in your bed. For gratitude meditation, you need to think about everything in your life you feel grateful for. When you tap into your memories and focus on things that make your life whole, you begin to understand the nature of life, its preciousness, and its delicacy. Through gratitude meditation, you start feeling a sense of gratitude towards every, small or big, aspect of your life.
Appreciate the little things in life
We never cease to express gratitude for big achievements. But we don’t realise true happiness lies in little moments, and we should celebrate each of them. Express your gratitude for waking up early in the morning, for the warm cup of coffee, for the pleasant weather, for your job, for your health, and for every strand in the fabric of your life. You don’t know how fortunate you are for everything you have. Be grateful for them instead of taking them for granted.
Look at the brighter side
It is easy to be grateful when things are going right. The real test of life, however, comes when the going gets tough. In Buddhism, it is said that our challenges make us headstrong. If we can apply the same principle in our lives, to look at the brighter side of every situation, our battles are half won. So, at every sharp turn, count your blessings, learn from the challenges, and wait for a better tomorrow.
Talk to people you care for
Like any other emotion, gratitude can get eclipsed by other emotions too. If you are feeling angry, depressed, or indifferent because of your circumstances, it could become difficult to hold on to the light of gratitude. In such cases, you can borrow gratitude from your loved ones. You don’t have to do anything. Just talk to people you care for. Talk to them about all the good times you have had. It will not only strengthen your bond with your loved ones, but will also make you feel grateful for their presence in your life.
Focus on progress, not perfection
Often, when we are too busy chasing a deadline or managing an urgent matter, we become obsessed to do everything right. We aim for perfection, and nothing less. However, the progress you made in this learning process is as important as your result. Gratitude is all about living in the present. You wander in the future, thinking about the destination all the time. Your journey is as important, because every failure, lesson, setback, and victory lies in here and now. The same goes for happiness.