We have heard of the importance and benefits of practicing gratitude, but oftentimes we are unsure of where to start and how to practice it. The virtue of gratitude is more than just saying “thank you”, the scientific explanation behind focuses on the acknowledgment of goodness in their lives. Gratitude indicates a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether that be tangible or intangible. The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. In much positive psychology research, gratitude has been found to be strongly associated with greater happiness, it often makes people feel more positive emotions, improving and strengthening interpersonal relationships, and improving their health in general. Gratitude does not have to be reserved only for momentous occasions; you can express gratitude for a warm and sunny day, not only when it comes to a big achievement like getting a promotion at work. Research has found that individuals who practice gratitude regularly, express more satisfaction with life, are less materialistic, less likely to experience burnout, have greater resiliency, and have improved sleep and physical health.
- Thank-you notes. When we write and receive thank-you notes, our brain tends to redirect itself to what we have. You could designate a day in the week to designate a person you choose to send your thank-you card, call, text, etc., and recognize the things they did.
- Gratitude Journal. There are many gratitude journals and available prompts you could find online or in bookstores nowadays. It is recommended to keep this practice consistent, for instance, you could write about things, people, or situations for which you are grateful in your gratitude journal before you go to bed every day. Pro tip: gratitude journaling before bedtime is a good activity to include in your bedtime routine, it is a great way to unwind at the end of the day.
- Giving back or paying kindness forward. As mentioned above, gratitude should not be an occasional, holiday thing, or only when someone gives/helps you. Gratitude should be done consistently and continually in order to experience the benefits of the practice. Paying kindness forward could possibly keep the kindness rolling forward.
- Express gratitude in multiple ways. Whether it be your past, present, or the future, there are many ways you could express your gratitude for. For example, expressing gratitude for the past by retrieving positive memories and being thankful for components of childhood and/or past blessings. To express gratitude in the present, try not to take good fortune for granted as it comes, and recognize and acknowledge them. As for future-focused gratitude, you could apply it by maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude.
- Self-appreciation. Self-love, self-affirmations, and self-appreciation are just as important as expressing gratitude for other things, people, and situations. You could start the practice of saying five good things about yourself to start the day. It may be awkward or uneasy at first, but over time it will become easier and you get to experience the benefits of practicing this self-love act.
By, Jessica Lau, EAP Counselor