THE GIFTS OF GRATITUDE – Daily Practices Boost Emotional Wellbeing
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
-- Melodie Beattie
A daily dose of gratitude may be just what we all need to improve our mental health and buffer against the effect of stress. Being grateful helps us be mindful of what is around us and shifts our focus outward. Thankful people have been found to are happier, have stronger relationships, are more optimistic, exercise more and have fewer visits to physicians. Here are four things you can do to benefit from gratitude:
1) Gratitude Inventory and Reflection
Make a list of the 100 things you are grateful for and keep it nearby to remind yourself on tough days. Include in this list:
· What do I take for granted?
· What challenges have made me a better person?
· Who are the people who have improved my well-being?
· What are the opportunities in the future that I look forward to?
· What gives me joy?
· Where do I find unconditional love and support?
Some people find it helpful to gather physical reminders of the things they are most grateful for and put them into a “hope kit” – pictures, thank you letters they have received, and so on.
Start and end your day by reflecting on these gifts and sending intentions of gratitude for their presence in your life by saying, “today I am especially grateful for…” or “my life is better because…is in it.” Notice the sensations you feel when you make these mental intentions of thanks.
2) Give Thanks Freely
Look for small acts of kindness in your day and offer unexpected thanks without expectation of anything in return. Quick notes or comments of gratitude go a long way for the giver and receiver.
3) Do the Gratitude Dance
Harvard Health Publications, November 2011 http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2011/November/in-praise-of-gratitude