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July 11, 2023
Study after study has shown that gratitude can drastically improve your mental health. Studies have shown that it can increase your sleep quality, while also decreasing your anxiety and depression. It has been proven that gratitude helps with inflammation and overall mood. Gratitude can literally unshackle your brain from toxic emotions. It increases your resilience and helps you cope with stress. The benefits are amazing, so let's learn how to get the most out of your gratitude practice.
When most people think of gratitude, they think of a list of things. For example, people often say I am grateful for my house, my family, my job, etc. Are you being grateful or are you being thankful? Oftentimes when we think of the things we are grateful for, we often express them in a form of thankfulness. To be thankful, is to be aware and appreciative of what one has or has been given. True gratitude however, is an energy state at its core.
You know those moments when life slows down a little bit? Where life feels blissful and surreal? The world seems to be a little more vivid and you are filled with an expansive feeling. You get a sense of peace and calmness. Deep emotion is evoked, you feel contentment, and an overall stillness. This is gratitude in its purest form. It leaves you with energy that is taken forward.
The switch from Thankfulness to Gratitude
The trick to actually implementing this is to understand the why behind what you are thankful for. Thankfulness turns to gratefulness when you identify why that thing is impactful to you. For example, you are really thankful for a friend you have. Why? What have they done that is impactful to you? Gratefulness sounds like: “I am grateful Sally is my friend. I don’t have a lot of people in my life who I can open up with, and she is someone who gives me that space. She always makes me feel seen and valued. I can count on her, she is loyal.” Think of someone who has had a great impact on your life, and why. Think and sit in the feelings you have, that is true gratitude. This can be done in various situations including people, the outdoors, spirituality, items, jobs, etc.
How can I get started?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1) One of my personal favorites is writing a letter to yourself. In this letter you express your gratitude for yourself and for the progress you have made. Not only does this help you enter a state of gratefulness but also helps build a sense of self acceptance.
2) The second option is to make a list of the things you are thankful for. Each day choose one thing and go into greater detail as to why. This can be done in a journal or meditative format.
3) The last option is to think about the people in your life. Then think about why you specifically appreciate them. Finally, send them a text telling them why they are a wonderful person. Not only will it make their day but it will make them feel seen. They will continue the kindness and gratefulness you started (they will also most likely give you appreciation back). If you do not feel comfortable sending the message, that is okay. You can still get the same benefits even if you do not share it.
I want to share some personal experiences of utilizing these things. I distinctly remember rereading a journal entry I had written to myself when I was in a really low emotional state. I was in a place of grief and extreme anxiety. I felt like I lost myself. I wrote a letter to myself expressing gratitude for who I am and what I stand for. I can’t recall to you what was said, but I do vividly remember the way I felt writing and reading it again. It made me feel proud and empowered and most importantly grateful. It brought me into my higher self. One of my new years goals was to reach out to people and tell them why I am grateful for them. As I have taken the time to share my gratitude to my friends and family, it has been a positive emotional experience. It has helped me to realize how much I do have. This has put my problems into perspective. I believe in gratitude and know that it will improve your life.
When it comes to gratitude, you have to remember you are in it for the long haul. The effects of gratitude will be most impactful overtime. Consistency is key here. Overtime, as we try our best to express gratitude regularly, we will enter a higher energy state. I hope you can come to love gratitude as much as I do.
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