I vividly remember myself humming these few lines back in school:
“Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you GOD for everything.”
WAIT a second! This is not a religious blog but, simply about being thankful for the good in our lives focusing on the positives rather than the negatives. Seeing the cup of life as “half full” than as “half empty”.
Sadly, I could not continue saying those 4 lines as I grew up. But why should I not feel grateful about things that are around me or happen to me now?
This thought stuck my mind a month back and since then I became serious about being “grateful” in life and making it a lifelong habit. Of course, it was going to be something beyond these few lines considering the amount of experience I’ve had or the number of things that I should be grateful for. Best thing about it was that it was doable and it required no inventory.
Just 5 min of your day, but in turn provides great rewards in happiness, healthy, mind-fullness, career, personality, deeper relationships. The benefits are endless but, doing so takes a bit of practice (talk about HABITS !) .
Speaking about its benefits on Health & Well-Being (since that’s my forte), here are some of the ways it affects us:
Experts say that practicing gratitude can increase health and happiness levels by about 25% ! And we all know that to achieve optimum health we need a healthy body, but we also need a healthy mind. Like muscle building, your mind also takes a while to build up and get strong. For this essentially practicing gratitude certainly helps.
- POSITIVE ATTITUDE:
Gratitude also turns what we have in to enough, shrinking away our worries, negativity, comparisons. You end up with a more positive outlook towards your goals and your life.
- SLEEP :
It improves sleep quality, time required to fall asleep and increases sleep duration. Just thinking about a few things we should be grateful for induces melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) and knocks us out. Gratitude and positive emotion in general are among the strongest relaxants known to man. A safe and free sleep aid!
- INCREASES LONGEVITY:
Indirectly of course. Gratitude is strongly related to a positive emotion and we all know that the optimists live a few years longer than the pessimists! So, gratitude —-> positive emotion —-> extra months / years on earth!
Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier and lets us experience good feelings. All of this helps us bounce back from stress. Whenever I am under this funk , feel down or demotivated, all I do it’s : grab my journal and start counting my blessings !
- YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO EXERCISE !
While there is no strong evidence that supports this, it should not surprise you if being grateful for your health would increase the tendency to want to protect it by exercising more. (Start practicing and let me know if it works for you! )
In a nutshell: Gratitude is no one-stop-shop , but it is a massively under utilised tool for improving the quality of life . You will be amazed to realise that all the goodness we take for granted.
Now you should be asking me, HOW can I bring more gratitude in my life???
Well, while there are many ways to practice this, one way that I follow and find the most practical is: Maintaining a gratitude journal.
All it requires is noting 1 or more things ( I write 3 everyday ) you are grateful for on a daily basis . No fancy notebook or App required. The real work goes on in your head. But if using a tool is helpful, go for it.
Here are a few handful of apps / websites that specialise in Gratitude:
Thankfulfor.com ( http://thankfulfor.com/) , Gratittude Journal for Iphone , Gratitude Plus for Ipad , Treater for IOS and Android .
I have picked up a few examples from my journal to give you an idea about how can you start:
- I am grateful for being able to sleep on a clean white bed sheet.
- I am grateful for the comfortable shoes I am wearing right now.
- I am blessed to have access to technology.
- I am lucky have my own bedroom space.
- I am grateful for a day off!
- I really enjoyed the lunch today.
Start off with small and simple things and gradually get deeper and complex. All of this takes less than 5 mins a day. It’s that simple! Trust me, once you start, you will want to go on and on and start falling short of space!
Keep a few things in mind, before you made a decision to go ahead:
Be genuine, No false praises, Be as specific as possible, Try to actually “feel” that feeling of gratitude.
So do you have 5 minutes to change your life forever ?
Go ahead and let’s make GRATITUDE PRACTICE a daily habit!
(WARNING: This exercise is super powerful and can make you feel really good. You might also find yourself smiling while filling up your journal.)