Why You Should Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Long ago I read a quote where Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests that we, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Of course, he was suggesting that we cultivate an” attitude of gratitude”.

Over the years, I’ve tried to follow his advice and have incorporated gratefulness as part of my mindfulness practice. It has helped me to focus daily on all the wonderful blessings I have in my life.

Since it’s thanksgiving week, I wanted to show my gratefulness for you by sharing part of my gratefulness practice with you today.

So, today let’s talk about how you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Let’s also examine the benefits of being grateful for your blessings, both big and small.  

What is Gratitude?

Simply put, gratitude is being actively thankful and appreciative of whatever may be in your life.

A Harvard Medical School article defines gratitude as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been proven to have several advantages for your emotional and mental wellbeing. It has also been linked to improving your physical health.

What are the Benefits of Developing an Attitude of Gratitude?

According to positive psychology research, cultivating and building an attitude of gratitude can have a vast number of benefits. It has been consistently shown to contribute to greater happiness, improved health, stronger resilience, and improved relationships.

Let’s explore some of these in greater detail.

1. Boosts your health and immune system.

As well as helping to boost and strengthen your overall mood and sense of wellbeing, having a regular gratitude practice has been shown to reduce stress levels.

According to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains. They also reported feeling healthier than other people.

People who have practice gratitude are also more likely to take care of their health.  Studies show they exercise more often and take care of their health in other ways, like scheduling regular check-ups with their doctors.

Practicing gratitude helps boost your immune system, which can play a big part in reducing your risk of heart failure and disease.
In other words, by practicing gratitude, you are keeping your mental health strong and healthy, and are also helping your body stay fit and well.

2. Raises your mood and improves your outlook on life.

Gratitude can play an influential role in reducing symptoms of both anxiety and depression, as well as boosting your feelings of wellbeing. It also helps to reduce harmful emotions like envy, resentment, frustration, and regret.

According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, there is a definite link between practicing gratitude and well-being. Additionally, having an attitude of gratitude helps to boost your outlook on life.

This optimism allows you to feel more satisfied with your present-day life while being content with less, which are both important for overall life happiness.

3. Strengthens your relationships.

Having an attitude of gratitude is also beneficial for your relationships. A study of couples found that those who regularly expressed gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward them but were also more comfortable expressing their relationship worries.

Practicing gratitude can help solidify your existing relationships and is extremely helpful when forming new relationships as well.

How to Build a Gratitude Practice

It doesn’t take a lot of work to Incorporate a gratitude practice into your everyday life. Simply adding a few small rituals into your daily routine can help you grow your attitude of gratitude

Here’s a few you can start today:

1. Notice the little things.

You can cultivate an attitude of gratitude simply by noticing the little things happening in your life. A straightforward way to do this is to pick three things that you’re grateful for every day.

These can be things as simple as a good cup of coffee, the sight of your pet, or just having a sunny day. What you’re doing is training your mind to notice the small things.
As you establish the habit of noticing the things that make you feel joy, even if it’s just for a moment, you’ll begin to feel more hopeful and grateful naturally.

2. Start a gratitude journal.

Take a few moments each night to jot down a few things that you’re grateful for. By keeping them in a journal, you can look back at them when you are struggling to feel grateful.

This will force you to remember to acknowledge those things. This will help bring up those feelings of gratitude, especially when you’re having a bad day.

3. Be thankful.

Having an attitude of gratitude means recognizing and appreciating those people and moments that bring you joy, peace, and comfort.

When someone does something for you, take a moment to show your appreciation. For example, thank your co-worker when they help you finish a project or when your barista brings you a cup of coffee. Let them know you are thankful for them.

4. Establish gratitude rituals.

When you take a moment to pause and appreciate something you develop a greater sense of gratitude.

You could say a prayer of thanks. You might take a few deep meditative breaths while thinking about what you are grateful for. You could even accompany the breaths by saying an affirmation like, “I am so grateful for (fill in the blank).”  

These are all examples of rituals that can inspire a greater sense of gratitude.

You Can Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is like building any other skill, the more you practice, the stronger that ability will become.

So, the first thing you need to do is start your practice. Make a habit of noticing the little things, write those things in your journal, be thankful and establish gratitude rituals.

If you do just a little bit each day, before you know it, you’ll be automatically incorporating gratitude into your daily life.  Soon you’ll find that your attitude of gratitude is filling your life with happiness and joy.

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