Have you ever heard the saying "start each day with a grateful heart?" There is more to that saying than just a cute little sign to put up in your office or kitchen. Really think about that ... what would be different if we started our day with a grateful heart?
Merriam Webster dictionary defines gratitude as "the state of being grateful"
Grateful is defined as "appreciative of benefits received"
How often are you actually appreciative of "benefits received" or in other words, grateful for what you have? In theory, of course we all are grateful to some extent for what we have, but how many of us take the time to acknowledge that?
If I asked you to think about three things right now that you're irritated or frustrated about, how long would it take for you to come up with the answer? Now, if I were to ask you to think about three things you are grateful for, does it take longer to come up with the answers? This is not because you don't have things to be grateful for or that you are grateful for less, but rather because the things that are negative often feel more pressing and are at the forefront of our minds. The things we appreciate often take a little bit more time to access in our minds.
Identifying things we are grateful for each day is not just something that sounds like a good thing to do, but there's actually research that backs up the benefits of doing it!
How will being grateful help me?
- improve sleep
- increase happiness
- decrease depression
- improve physical health
- improve self-esteem
- improve relationships
Just to name a few things. Still not convinced? Let me help you...
If you take five minutes a day to stop and identify the things you are grateful for, just by default even for those five minutes you'll likely be happier, more appreciative and overall have a more positive outlook. If you then take those five minutes and do that every day, these positive benefits will start to become a part of your routine, they will eventually become a habit and eventually you won't even have to really think about what you're grateful for, but it will become second nature. Yes, I'm simplifying the process of course, but hopefully you get the picture. Let's use an example. Here are some things one might be grateful for ...
- Having a job
- Having a spouse that is supportive of their goals and dreams
- Being healthy enough to get out of bed each day
- Hot water
Did you notice these things vary very widely? You can be grateful for very general things, such as having a job or a supportive spouse or you can be grateful for very small things that others might not even think are very important, such as hot water and chocolate. Maybe today you're not feeling particularly grateful for hot water, but if you lost power tonight and had to go without hot water for a few days, I bet you'd be grateful for it once you got it back. The point is, it doesn't matter if what you're grateful for is something someone else would be grateful for or not and what you're grateful for doesn't have to be earth shattering. The goal is just to identify things in your life that you are grateful for and in turn the exercise of doing so will provide you with more beneficial results!
Yes, there may be some days in which it feels like there are few things to be grateful for, but it's so important to remember, there is always something.
Whether you just note these things in your head to yourself each day or you keep notes in your phone or on paper or in an actual gratitude journal, the goal is to get in the practice of doing this every day. I'll bet you start to notice the benefits in many ways!