Gratitude practice is not only a feeling of well-being, it’s a skill that can be developed. Mastering gratitude is like mastering other important skills in life: after an initial investment of time and effort, you get to reap what you have sown.
When you practice gratitude regularly, you pave a strong foundation for a fulfilling life. Essentially, the practice of gratitude strengthens your ability to notice the good, and it gets easier every time you do it. Read on to learn ways to implement gratitude in your daily life and the incredible benefits of starting this habit today.
Gratitude Practice Benefits
Many gratitude practice benefits fall into one of two categories: mental and physical health. When both are flourishing, we feel at our best.
Mental health benefits
Generally, people who practice gratitude have decreased anxiety and depression. They also have better goal attainment and have a more optimistic viewpoint on life.
Feeling grateful lights up the brain’s neural networks the same way as the feeling of pleasure. When the brain perceives pleasure, it sends signals to the body to respond accordingly via many physical mechanisms. Then we feel relaxed, at ease. Some studies even show that the stress hormone cortisol is up to 23 percent lower in people who practice gratitude regularly.
Feeling more connected with other people is another important health benefit of gratitude practice. People reportedly feel more love and appreciation, thereby improving their social bonds.
Physical health benefits
Good mental health has a positive effect on your physical health as well. Accordingly, there are also direct physical health benefits from gratitude.
Clinical trials indicate a 25 percent reduction of dietary fat intake in people who practice gratitude regularly. Furthermore, regular practice also reduces the effects of aging on the brain. These health effects are partially explained by the release of positive hormones when we feel gratitude, such as oxytocin, in combination with a reduction of negative hormones, such as cortisol.
In summary, gratitude practice nurtures the mind, body, and soul. If gratitude doesn’t come naturally to you, a great way to exercise is by starting a gratitude journal.
Practice Gratitude Daily in a Journal
Practice makes perfect. Many people assume that being thankful every once in a while is enough. But, after they fail to see transformation in their lives, they stop practicing altogether. A gratitude journal allows you to systematically implement gratitude daily and gradually become an expert.
You can get started with the 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change. The journal prompts you to write three things you are grateful for in the morning. At night it asks you to reflect on three amazing things that happened during the day. There are also positive psychology-inspired questions geared to focus your attention on the good.
The point is to practice gratitude daily. You may think you will run out of things to be grateful for, but your entries can be a mix of mundane events (“train came on time”), sublime events (“an unexpected gift from a loved one”), and timeless events (“the existence of your favorite music band”). You will be surprised at how fast your journal fills when you take the time to notice the good things around you.
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