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When you are grateful...


When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears (Anthony Robbins)

As I am an advocate of using strengths in order to be more energised, motivated and productive, I have undertaken to work on one of my strengths every month.  The strengths assessment tool that I use, Strengths Profile, identifies strengths that you haven’t used for a while.

This month, I decided to “exercise” one of my underutilised strength muscles and, according to my assessment, the top one is Gratitude.  So, in August I have been bringing a little gratitude in to my world.  This is how I got on!

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is a spontaneous feeling but, increasingly, research shows us that it is also valuable as a deliberate practice i.e., making a conscious effort to count your blessings.  Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude and that there are important social and personal benefits to doing so.  The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward.

The personal benefits of gratitude

There is a plethora of research on the benefits of gratitude.  A 2018 white paper entitled “The Science of Gratitude” outlines several benefits to “practising gratitude”:

  • Increased happiness and positive mood
  • More satisfaction with life
  • Less materialistic
  • Less likely to experience burnout
  • Better physical health
  • Better sleep
  • Less fatigue
  • Lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • Greater resiliency
  • Encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

  • When we express or receive gratitude, dopamine is released in our brain.  This makes a connection between the behaviour (gratitude) and feeling good.  The more we practise gratitude, the more often dopamine releases.

    One of the most popular gratitude exercises is keeping a daily gratitude journal. There is plenty of research that is in support of the benefits of this.  One study found that materialism among adolescents decreased when they implemented this practice. Participants also donated 60% more money to charity (Chaplin, Roedder John, Rindfleisch, & Froh, 2019).
  • Other studies show that healthier eating habits ensue and that teenagers experience fewer negative emotions.  It is even suggested that gratitude journaling has helped to reduce inflammation in patients experiencing asymptomatic heart failure.
  • There is conflicting research about how often a person should journal. Sonja Lyubomirsky and colleagues (2010) found that once or twice per week is more beneficial than daily journaling.

How to practise gratitude

Well, hopefully you’re convinced that practising gratitude is a good thing.  For me, in August, I kept it simple and kept a gratitude journal.  I noted down three things (nearly) every day for which I was grateful.  I tried to be quite specific about these things, so rather than say “I am grateful for my dog”, I might say “I am grateful for the beautiful, relaxing walk along the beach that I enjoyed with my faithful companion”.

There are other exercises that we can try as well as journaling:

  • Write a gratitude letter to someone for whom you are thankful.  Consider sending it or giving it to them in person
  • Incorporate gratitude into your meditation practice
  • Say “thank you” in a real and meaningful way (be specific about what you’re thanking the individual for
  • Write thank you notes, regularly!
  • Gratitude pebble – this is my favourite! – carry around a small pebble in your pocket and, each time, your hand touches it, stop and be grateful for something.

I notice that all of these activities seem very simple to do.  It would appear that gratitude is something that’s easy to do and has a great impact on our own wellbeing as well as on the wellbeing of those around us.

What difference does it make?

I have certainly finished this month feeling positive and upbeat.  It has been a very busy month for me from a work perspective (marketing and launching my first online programme) and I have felt energetic and positive.  It has been rewarding to take some moments each day to reflect on the “wins” as well as the quieter, more peaceful things for which I’m grateful.

I hope that those around me have also benefitted from the “grateful vibes” I’ve been giving off.  I will certainly keep up the practice and venture into some of the exercises mentioned above to share the love of gratitude a bit further.

If you decide to try any gratitude practices, please do share your experiences with me!

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