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The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Individuals who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect on the things they are thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion, kindness and have a stronger immune system. Gratitude does not have to be reserved for momentous occasions; it can be expressed after receiving something as simple as a delicious piece of apple pie. According to psychologist Robert Emmons, simply keeping a gratitude journal or writing brief reflections on moments for which we are thankful can significantly increase wellbeing and bring life satisfaction.
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has, as opposed to a consumer driven emphasis on what an individual desires. We can deliberately cultivate and increase our wellbeing and happiness by expressing to others the positive outlook of each situation. We can increase our energy, reaffirm our optimism, empathy and expand our prayer life.
One way to enjoy the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you are grateful for every day. Gratitude journaling or prayer works because it slowly allows changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. While you might always be thankful for your family, friends, significant other, just writing or saying “I am grateful” allows you to stretch yourself beyond any situation. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance our gratitude practice.
According to Dr. Deci and Dr. Ryan who study intrinsic motivation, which is a deep desire from within to persist on a task, one of the biggest determinants is autonomy, the ability to do things the way we want. So do not limit yourself, if journaling or prayer is feeling stale, try out new and creative ways to track your grateful moments. Happiness offers an endless variety of gratitude activities to choose from.
Try to recognize and plan for the obstacles that may get in the way. Here are some suggested ways to exercise gratitude:
Our relationship with the Lord and others is the greatest element of our happiness. It makes sense to think of the Lord or other people as we build our sense of gratitude. If we focus our gratitude on individuals for whom we are thankful rather than on circumstances or material items that will enhance the benefits we experience.