Gratitude is a truly underrated practice and even though the concept has probably been around since humans came to existence, its popularity rose significantly in recent decades with the spread of Eastern philosophies and the rise of positive psychology.
Experience has proven that showing gratitude is significantly different than positive thinking. While some may feel that positive thoughts and affirmations are totally unrealistic and serve as a way to delude oneself, gratitude does the exact opposite. It is a way of finding something to be thankful for regardless of life’s ups and downs.
If you need scientific evidence about the benefits of a regular gratitude practice for motivation, research shows that it boosts the immune system, creates positive emotions, lowers the blood pressure, increases mental strength, improves self-esteem, helps people sleep better and feel more alive.
Here are a few tips for those who have never practiced gratitude to get started:
- Realize that you can be grateful for the smallest things in life like finding a seat on the subway, getting a discount at the counter, taking your umbrella with you on a rainy day, getting paid on time, or having 8 hours of sleep.
- You don’t have to change your life or your schedule to do this practice – do it out loud in the shower, write it down on your phone when you’re commuting, think about things you’re grateful for when you’re trying to fall asleep.
- Do it when you’re feeling down – it’s much easier to find things we are grateful for when we’re happy but doing it when life has just hit us with a brick makes it all the more meaningful and powerful.
- Pay attention to how you feel – at first, the practice may come off as weird if you’re new to it but if you watch your emotions closely, you’ll soon become aware that you feel calmer, happier, and – you guessed it – more grateful after you’ve done it.
- If you’re a visual person, get a jar and put it somewhere in your house where you can see it frequently and fill it with gratefulness notes. As the jar starts to fill, you’ll realize how much you have in your life that you are grateful for. (This was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar.)