The idea of practicing gratitude can be intimidating. After all, most people associate the word “gratitude” with being happy and grateful for what you already have.
But what about when you’re feeling low or like something’s missing? Or even worse, what if something in your life is causing you pain or stress? Does that mean you should ignore it? Absolutely not! Instead, consider it an opportunity to practice gratitude while acknowledging what needs to change.
What does it mean to have a gratitude mindset?
Gratitude is a way of being that increases happiness and improves relationships. It’s not about getting something you want; it’s about being grateful for what you already have.
It is a genuine expression of appreciation for the gifts in your life, including the people you love, your health and well-being, good fortune or success—even simple pleasures like food or music!
And there are numerous benefits, like increased happiness!
Studies show that people become happier when they write down what they are grateful for daily. Writing down three things you’re thankful for every morning can make you feel better! If you don’t feel dramatically better immediately after the writing. Be patient and remember that the benefits of gratitude might take time to kick in.
Gratitude and the brain
At the most basic level, gratitude is good for your mental health. It can help you deal with stress and anxiety, manage depression, and improve sleep.
Having a gratitude mindset also gives you a more positive outlook on life.
Scientists conducted a study in 2008 to measure the brain activity of people thinking and feeling gratitude. What they found was “that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. In short, gratitude can boost the neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.” Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. So the more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel (Brain Balance Center).
How to Practice Gratitude
- Write in a gratitude journal. These are one of the most effective ways to practice gratitude and reap its benefits, as they allow you to reflect on what you’re thankful for each day.
- Keep a gratitude jar or box. Another way to increase your appreciation is by writing down all the things you’re grateful for and putting them in a pot or box somewhere where you can see them regularly (for example, on your bedside table). When the items start piling up, take some time to reflect on them—it’ll help keep those positive vibes going strong!
- Share your gratitude with others. Even if it feels strange, sharing what makes you happy will help spread positive energy around yourself and others by reminding everyone that good things are happening in their lives, too (and perhaps inspiring them to do something nice for themselves!).
For Your Mental Health
When we’re grateful for our mental health, we can feel less stressed and more relaxed. Being grateful can also help you sleep better: The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people who wrote down five things they were thankful for before going to bed slept an average of 30 minutes longer than those who focused on hassles or what they were looking forward to the next day.
The benefits also extend beyond your physical health: Research suggests that gratitude can help you build stronger relationships, improve your overall outlook on life, and make you happier— this is just scratching the surface!
Everyone has different circumstances, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to practicing gratitude.
But if you are struggling with mental health issues, this practice can be an essential part of your recovery journey. Don’t forget that your ability to feel grateful is a choice—and an amazing one at that!
With enough determination and dedication, you can learn to be more thankful for everything around you—even when life feels like it’s falling apart.
OVERWHELM TO OVERFLOW
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