So welcome to February! The second month of the year. This month my wellness challenge is to actively practice gratitude.
What is gratitude?
So, in a nutshell the act of gratitude is to be ‘thankful’ for the experiences that occur in our lives. Gratitude involves us stopping to take notice of those simple pleasures in life. It is easy for us to get caught up in the rigmarole of life and as humans we can tend to pay more attention to negative experiences. However, when we actively practice gratitude we shift our focus from what’s lacking in our life to what’s present in our life.
What does research suggest?
Research demonstrates that those who actively practice gratitude have a greater quality of life. A large study demonstrated that those who kept a gratitude journal (a daily list detailing things for which they were grateful for) reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, motivation, optimism and energy. They were more likely to achieve personal goals and experience lower levels of depression and stress.
It has also been reported that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by 25%, improve our immune system and strengthen our personal relationships.
But life can’t be that great all the time?
The act of practicing gratitude is not a veil of disillusionment. Life can be tough and bad things happen. However, gratitude heightens our attention to what we have in our lives as well as us being more appreciative of the good things in life.
How can we practice gratitude?
Like mindfulness, when we practice gratitude we should pay attention to our senses and actually try to be quite playful! For instance, going for a walk and paying attention to the heat of the sun on your back, the breeze on your face, the crunch of the branches under you feet, the smell of the air, the texture of a tree trunk! We could then actively be thankful that we can experience such a simple pleasure and that we can have the opportunity to do such activities.
There are many ways you can practice gratitude. If you type ‘gratitude’ into any web search you’ll be given a whole host of ways. The way I’ve decided to do it is by taking taking 10 minutes or so out at the end of the day to journal 3 things that I’ve been grateful for during the day. I’m calling this journal, as well as my series of gratitude blogs, ‘Yay for the Day.’
Feel free to tweet your gratitude thoughts using #YFTD!
I hope this blog has intrigued you and you join me on my gratitude journey. I’ll keep you updated by Facebook as we progress through the month and I look forward to hearing all of your stories!
Until next time,