Robert Emmons, a leading expert on gratitude, cites two key components to gratitude –
- “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
- “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
The practice of gratitude is about affirmation. It’s about slowing down and looking deeply into our lives and acknowledging all of our blessings. The practice of gratitude brings us into the present moment. It asks us to leave the past in the past and to not worry about the future. It takes the drama out of life and just leaves the substance – the things that really matter. Gratitude is about getting real and really love your life as it is in this moment.
“There is no joy without gratitude” ~ Brené Brown
- Research shows that gratitude builds connections and helps us to cultivate new relationships. Other studies have found that practicing gratitude reduces our urge to engage in social comparisons which may also help open us to these social connections and create a greater sense of belonging.
- Research by Robert Emmons shows that practicing gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.
- People who practice gratitude exercise more often and take better care of themselves overall. They also report having fewer aches and pains.
- One study showed that participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward others.
- According to a study in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep – better sleep or longer amounts of time.
- Numerous studies have shown that gratitude is an antidote for stress and may also help with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to its ability to generate emotional and mental resilience.
More and more research shows that practicing gratitude has numerous mental, physical and emotional benefits. It is a practice that doesn’t require much time or money and it is something that anyone can learn to do and do regularly. Once you start practicing you won’t want to stop.
How To Start Practicing
Practice Loving Kindness – research shows that adding Loving Kindness to your meditation increases feelings of gratitude.
Write it Down – Keep a gratitude journal. Before bed each night spend 15 minutes writing down gratitudes from the day.
Practice Service – Be of service in the world – give back to your community or a cause.
Practice In The Moment – Keep a gratitude jar on your desk at work. Each day add a slip a paper expressing what you feel grateful for that day or moment.
Give Thanks – Make gratitude a regular part of your evening meal. Go around the table and have each person express their gratitude.