Gratitude is an expression of thanks for gifts we have received. Scientists are finding that an attitude of gratitude is a powerful contributor to a happy life. Some believe that it may be the single most effective way to increase happiness.
The idea of receiving a gift is central to the concept of gratitude. While merely appreciating something for its positive qualities does have a positive impact on our lives and emotions, gratitude takes the next step beyond. Gratitude happens when we go beyond just appreciating something to acknowledging that we have received a gift that we did nothing to earn or deserve. On some level, the warm emotional rush we feel when we really feel gratitude is very much like the glow we feel from realizing we are unconditionally loved.
Research shows that practicing an attitude of gratitude may be the fastest single pathway to happiness, health, long life, and prosperity. It has been found that people who keep a list or a gratitude journal report a great life satisfaction. They exercise more, enjoy life more and their families and friend notice that they are nicer to be around. People who take the time to admire and appreciate the good things that come their way through grace, luck or the goodness of others are happier and more peaceful.
Grateful people typically do better on cognitive tests and have great problem-solving skills. They practice healthier habits, have better relationships, are more optimistic, and live longer. Gratitude is a powerful basic human emotion.
Think about this: we are wearing clothes others made for us, eating food others grew and prepared for us, using tools others designed and fabricated and taught us how to use, and are even speaking words others defined and explained. The list goes on and on... Any verb we can think of -- sleep, play, drive, work, watch, bathe -- can be followed by a phrase attributing the action to some supporting role by others. There really is nothing we do that is thanks to our own efforts alone!
We can distinguish between feeling grateful and being grateful. Feeling grateful is a response to a benefit, while being grateful is a way of life. Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.
Developing gratitude is surprisingly easy. Here are five proven methods:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every day write about the good things that happened to you that day.
2. Write a letter of appreciation. Take two minutes each day and send a quick email or text to people who have helped you.
3. Make a gratitude visit. Gratitude is a powerful emotion for both the giver & receiver. Deliver your message in person.
4. Make a gratitude list. Each day create a list 3 to 5 things you are grateful for and WHY you are grateful for them.
5. Take a gratitude walk. Focus on deepening your gratitude as the movement and variety of walking helps your brain and heart to work better.
Start today and you can enjoy a happier life now!
Shelly Aristizabal is the new President of Business Women Connect. She is a seasoned business coach, advisor and speaker who helps entrepreneurs network to success. Learn more about Shelly and her recently published book This Is Your Year at BusinessWomenConnect.com, ShellyAristizabal.com & HealthyLivingConcierge.com.