Thank you! Two simple words used every day to express gratitude and yet gratitude is more than two simple words. Gratitude has been described as an action, a feeling, a learned behavior, a positive emotion and a state of being. Gratitude has been referred to as the mother of all virtues, the antidote to dissatisfaction and the main motivator for happiness.
Gratitude is ultimately a choice to live life in the present, by enjoying, appreciating and being intentionally thankful for all that is good right now, rather than focusing on what is lacking. Gratitude is about connecting you to something larger than yourself, whether to other people, nature or a higher power, and gratitude is about saying, “thank you” to life itself.
Living life through a gratitude lens begins with gratitude awareness. You can express and experience gratitude in different ways, this can be done outwardly and inwardly. When you express gratitude outwardly you are grateful to someone and your appreciation can be shown through action, by doing kind deeds to say, “thank you”. When you experience gratitude inwardly you are grateful for someone or something and your appreciation can be felt internally.
This feeling is from an all-encompassing attitude of gratitude that wasn’t sparked by any circumstance, but where appreciation is prevalent in all aspects of your life. Practicing gratitude awareness allows you to recondition your core beliefs and become more optimistic and satisfied in order to see that your life is actually quite good.
Developing this awareness is about letting go of the idea that you somehow are missing something or haven’t reached an ideal state, and letting go of your desire for material things that you believe will fill you up and make you whole. To begin your gratitude awareness it is quite simple, open your mind, shift your focus to right now and allow yourself to feel appreciation for something or someone in your life. You can also answer these questions to keep moving on your gratitude journey.
Gratitude Awareness Questions:
- What relationships are you most thankful for?
- What qualities do you have that you are most grateful for?
- What insights have you gained that you are grateful for?
- What is something that someone else has done to benefit your life that you are thankful for?
- What challenges have you learned that you are thankful for?
- What opportunities are you thankful for?
- How can you say thank you to others, and yourself, more often?
- How can you turn a negative into something positive?
Cultivating a deliberate and consistent gratitude practice can change your focus and in turn can change your life. Studies show that having a gratitude practice can shift your focus toward positivity and wherever your focus goes, everything else follows. There are a myriad of benefits that result from gratitude and they create a ripple effect that can impact all areas of your life. Specifically, they can increase your happiness and your positive feelings which create better experiences.
They can help with developing deeper relationships by being more engaged and strengthening social bonds. They can lead to better mental health by reducing stress, developing stronger self-control and counteracting negative feelings. They can improve physical health by improving sleep, increasing frequency of exercise and boosting your immune system. Each of these benefits are the result of living with an intentional gratitude practice which creates a foundation both internally and externally to achieve success and happiness.
Here are some ways to develop your gratitude practice. Think about beginning or ending your day by declaring 3 things you are grateful for, they can literally be anything that comes to mind. Try your hand at journaling on a weekly basis about all the things that you appreciate. Write a handwritten thank you letter each month to someone, thanking them for touching your life in some way. Develop a meditation practice each week to meditate on gratitude and to strengthen your awareness. Practice looking for the positive in every situation even when you think it isn’t possible. And finally commit to an act of kindness each day that spreads kindness and pays it forward.
Living life through a gratitude lens can truly transform your life, because it reminds you to focus on the good which optimizes everything and allows you to appreciate what you do have. Gratitude is quite possibly the most direct path to success because when you see life with a positive attitude you see opportunities and you are able to make shifts that create pathways that lead you to new possibilities. When you live with gratitude you live with an abundance of appreciation and an embracing orientation toward life that says, “thank you” each and every day.