Gratitude

Although Australians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s a nice reminder to start cultivating an attitude of gratitude (if you haven’t already).

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie

Tonnes of research studies on gratitude reveal these benefits:

  • Gratitude makes us happier. Gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).
  • Gratitude improves our relationships. It makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, gratitude helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improves our marriage.
  • Gratitude makes us healthier. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people. They are also more likely to take care of their health by exercising more often and attending regular medical check-ups. Gratitude is correlated with improved sleep quality and amount of vitality and energy.
  • Gratitude boosts our career. It makes you a more effective manager, helps you network, increases your decision-making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.
  • Gratitude strengthens our emotions. It reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.
  • Gratitude develops our personality. Grateful people are more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual, less self-centred and have more self-esteem.

Tips to not only to start a gratitude practice, but to maintain it for the long haul:

  • Keep a gratitude journal beside your bed so you can jot down one thing you were grateful for that day before you sleep. It only takes 30 seconds and you won’t forget to do it daily.
  • Don’t like journaling? Start a gratitude jar so you can add little scribbles every time you are grateful for something. On New Year’s Eve, empty the jar and review everything you wrote.
  • What you’re grateful for doesn’t need to be monumental or life-changing; it might be as simple as a call from a friend, a delicious avocado on toast breakfast or the fact you had time to attend a yoga class. They can be moments, people, things, or anything at all that you feel grateful for.
  • They do need to be specific though – writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week turns pretty stale faster than a loaf of sourdough. Try “Today I’m grateful for the shoulder massage my partner gave me when he knew I was really stressed” instead.