"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie
Gratitude is a powerful and transformative force. So simple to cultivate, yet often incredibly challenging at the same time. Gratitude expands our happiness, fosters loving relationships and even improves our health.
There have been many scientific studies dedicated to studying the physical, emotional and mental effects of gratitude. In particular, research by famous psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough discovered that people who consciously focus on feeling grateful experience increased emotional well-being and better physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful perspective…
- Felt better about their lives
- Experienced greater levels of joy
- Felt optimistic about the future
- Were sick less often
- Exercised more regularly
- Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination and focus
- Made greater progress toward achieving goals
- Slept better
- Enjoyed closer family relationships
- Were more likely to help others
If you want more happiness and energy, better sleep and peaceful relationships, practicing gratitude is essential. Gratitude fills our hearts and moves us from a mindset of limitations and fear to infinite possibility and compassion.
When we appreciate a person, situation or aspect of ourselves, our ego is temporarily silenced and we connect with our truest Self. Gratitude brings our attention right into the present moment, which is the only place where miracles can unfold and where we can truly be at peace.
To begin cultivating gratitude, here are a few simple, effective gratitude practices for you to try!
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
For thousands of years since ancient times, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition have taught that cultivating gratitude is a key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and wellbeing. One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
"The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is." - Baruch Spinoza
Journaling can help you to find meaning, joy and direction in your life, as well as facilitate inner transformation. When you are making your daily gratitude list or answering the above questions in your journal, challenge yourself to come up with something new each day. This can help you to look even deeper into your life and what makes it unique.
You can write your daily reflections after you wake up, in the middle of the day, before you go to sleep, or all three. It's just important that you consistently focus on your blessings every day. What you think about expands in your life - by focusing on gratitude, you're bringing more and more positivity into your experience.
2. Write Thank You Messages
A nice way to start this one is to make a list of three people who have had a positive impact on you. Write a letter to them talking about all the ways they have helped you and how thankful you are to have them in your life. Then, if possible, give them the letter in person. If not, sending it via snail mail or the internet is okay too. The important part is to get the message across and let them know how much you appreciate them. Oftentimes, the person receiving your message will have had no idea of the good effect they had on your life, and will be deeply touched. The written word can be powerful because it shows you took the time to write something down. Plus a written message can be read again and again, and treasured. This action generates positive feelings for everyone involved!
3. Take Daily Gratitude Walks
This simple practice is especially necessary when you are feeling stressed or depressed. Take at least a 15 to 20 minute walk in nature or around your neighborhood at least once a day. Preferably someplace that is quiet and peaceful. But as you walk, don't let yourself slip into worry or negative thought patterns - give a concentrated effort to focus on positive things and what you are grateful for you in your life. Some also call this a "walking meditation." If you have a mantra or a spiritual passage, you could also repeat this to yourself as you walk, either out loud or in your head.
Breathe deeply be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Also pay attention to your senses and bring yourself into the present moment. Take into account everything you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood!
Read more of our articles that focus on promoting mental and emotional health using Ayurvedic principles.
If you are struggling to start or sustain an Ayurvedic lifestyle and a positive mental and emotional state, please contact us. We will refer you to an affiliated Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor that will be able to help you.