Habit 1: The Power of Gratitude

How to make gratitude a daily habit – mindful?

Our general approach to gratitude is to express our appreciation for an event in our life that has happened. Following research into positive psychology, gratitude’s definition is somewhat broadening. It should be mindfully implemented far more in our daily lives. In our view, gratitude can mean conscious appreciation of any aspect of our experiences. Sonja Lyubomirsky meanwhile offers a more poetic description: “The wonders are there; they are appreciated; they see the brighter side. They see an abundance; they thank somebody. Those are ‘assured’; they’re coping; they’re present. “.

What has gratitude to do with your mental health, well-being and psychology?

Well, think again. Gratitude has the power to go further than you ever imagined on your emotions. Gratitude can be a pillar in your life with it increasing your levels of happiness and improving physical health. This habit is the key one I strongly recommend. It can seriously change your life.

Good for Mental health

Gratitude is proven to make you happier, grateful and reduce your anxiety. Practising gratitude releases both dopamine and serotonin which are neurotransmitters with positive associations. Dopamine is the happy hormone, it makes you feel alert, motivated, and focused. More it clears your negative thoughts. Serotonin calms the body with stabilizing emotions. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

Boosts Positive emotions

Not only happier but healthier. Numerous studies have examined the relationship between gratitude and physical health markers such as cardiovascular health, stress and inflammation, pain perception, and sleep. The findings were that keeping a gratitude journal improved diastolic blood pressure, focusing on things to be grateful about before bed each night increased pre-sleep calmness and those people who kept a gratitude journal for 14 days reported fewer headaches, clearer skin, less stomach pain, and reduced congestion.

I will provide 3 ways you implement gratitude as a habit in your life.

Start a Gratitude journal for positive psychology

image of a hand holding a pen, writing a journal

As previously mentioned in the study findings, one powerful implementation of gratitude is a journal. Can take as few as 2 minutes out of your day but it can be crucial to extracting the positive elements of your life. For me, this is the most powerful and tangible habit to implement. It allows you to look back each day at things you were grateful for, and it is a book to always remind you of the good things that are present in your life.

Its beneficial to say thanks for your someone’s time and effort in your life(“thank you so much for being available for me”).

How do you express gratitude in a Journal?

Name a particular item that was helpful to you. Sometimes it’s okay to say thanks for your time and effort (“thank you so much for being available if we need it”).

For me, the easiest thing to do is to write down 3 things that I am grateful for. The first of which I start with detailing one aspect of my day that I was grateful for. Next, I think of something to write down that came to mind today that reminded me of a positive time in my life, or an event that I am grateful for that has happened to me. Lastly, I think of someone that I am grateful for and why. The more details you give the better! Try to end your day with this as it is the best before bed because as mentioned earlier you will get better sleep because of it (thank me later).

For life satisfaction in daily life STOP. LOOK. GO

When you are a child, you are taught to cross the road in 3 simple steps. You are told to STOP at the roadside then LOOK in both directions while listening for any noise and only then you can GO and cross safely. Gratitude can be implemented in the moments of your life in the same way. In life, there are so many experiences and stimuli that pass us by, and we do not get a chance to properly take them at the moment. The next time you are in nature, looking out to sunset or over a viewpoint, I urge you to please STOP for a second. Stop in your movement, stand still.

Focus on the positive emotions

Stop in your thoughts that are not in the present momentum. Think about why you are grateful to be right there, right now as a person. I want you then to use all 5 of your senses to take in all of your surroundings. Start with LOOK. Observe what your surroundings are and be very detailed in that look, see the beauty in simple things, not the negative ones. Then I want you to take a deep breath to take in all the smells as this is a great way for your brain to remember a memory associated with a certain smell, much like listening to the surroundings for positive psychology. A certain sound or noise your brain can easily retract the experience that matches this. It is funny how every holiday has a ‘holiday song’ that takes you right back to a positive mood or related experience you had when that song was playing. Taste is the next one, maybe there is a certain drink or food that you should feel your taste buds and savour every mouthful in life.

Lastly touch, with nature especially, feel the grains of sand or rock you are climbing on or the ground beneath you. You will feel very present, and gratitude helps you to achieve this practice. Once you have stopped and used your senses only then you should GO but what will not go away, is the moment you have now taken in. To feel grateful in that emotional moment.

Writing a Letter for greater emotional happiness

Sounds weird right? Writing something on paper and sending it to someone. Write a letter to someone to tell them you are grateful for their presence in your life. It will go further than you will ever know in your relationships. You never know how badly someone needs to read what you have written, timing is everything. My favourite way to do this is a postcard.

Research

A New York Times research study was conducted about people who write or send a gratitude letter to someone they have not formally told they are thankful for. The results were overwhelming as the respondent’s happiness was underestimated by the sender and the embarrassment was far overestimated. Their reactions far surpassed expectations with their surprise and happiness scoring far above predicted results in relationships. The moral of the story is you do not know the impact this small gesture can have on someone. What is stopping you from doing this…… the answer is nothing.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Summary: How to make gratitude a daily habit – of mindfulness?

Our general approach to gratitude is to express our appreciation for an event in our life that has happened. Following research into positive psychology, gratitude’s definition is somewhat broadening. It should be mindfully implemented far more in our daily lives. In our view, gratitude can mean conscious appreciation of any aspect of our experiences. Sonja Lyubomirsky meanwhile offers a more poetic description: “The wonders are there; they are appreciated; they see the brighter side. They see an abundance; they thank somebody. Those are ‘assured’; they’re coping; they’re present. “.

The habit of gratitude can influence your life like no other. These are 3 simple ways you can make gratitude a habit in your life. The journal can be a daily habit, the STOP, LOOK and GO is to be implemented as much as possible, and letter writing is more of a monthly habit.

If you want a further explanation, listen to my full TED Talk-style presentation. https://youtu.be/3m5ikrG9OFg

Until then, speak to you in next week’s article, 8 Tips For Healthy Sleep, or you may consider reading how to implement atomic habits in your life and how they will change your life

Ross

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