Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you. ~ Eileen Caddy
Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. Gratitude means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the significant improvements can result from practicing gratitude. Noticing all we have and giving thanks for those people and things makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, reduces stress, and improves overall health and well-being.
Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis is a leading researcher on gratitude. His extensive studies on gratitude and appreciative people shows that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%.
Professor Emmons’ research also shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, recover more quickly from adversity, have a more resilient immune system, and stronger social relationships than those who aren’t grateful. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”
As humans, we tend to take for granted the good that is already present in our lives. Try this gratitude exercise to enhance your appreciation of all that you have:
Imagine losing things that you take for granted: your home, your ability to see, hear or walk, your morning cup of coffee, laughter, snuggling with your children or pet, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and reflect on how grateful you would be for each and every one of these gifts.
Use gratitude to help put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, we often have a “Woe is me” reaction. Remember: Every adversity carries within it a silver lining. From difficulty sprout seeds of an equal or greater benefit.
In the face of adversity ask yourself:
“What is good about this?”
“What can I learn from this situation?”
“How can I benefit from this challenge?”
Gratitude should not be a reaction to getting what you want, but an appreciation you feel all the time. Notice the little things, consistently look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Bring gratitude to your experiences, don’t wait for a positive experience in order to feel grateful. By doing this, you will be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude and creating a life filled with happiness.
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ John Milton
Excerpts from The Change Blog, How Gratitude Can Change Your Life.