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More than simply a glass-half-full attitude, the impacts of gratitude are rich and far-reaching. Read on to learn about the range of benefits of consciously cultivating more gratitude, and how to make it part of your day.
Researchers phrase gratefulness as a broad and positive orientation toward recognizing and appreciating what’s good in the world, a counting of blessings, and a perspective that highlights life’s gifts.
For psychotherapist and author Linda Graham, gratitude is an “embodied, felt experience of thankfulness for life’s blessings, which opens our hearts and expands our consciousness.” For clinical psychologist Dr. Diana Brecher, gratitude is noticing “the good things in your life, and intentionally acknowledging them. Sometimes, it manifests as being thankful for something that has happened; other times it is a deep appreciation of beauty, art, or nature.”
The benefits of gratitude
Dr. Diana Brecher shares some insights into why we should cultivate gratitude.
Positively impacts symptoms of depression
The practice of gratitude can have a positive impact on symptoms of depression and despair because it guides focus to what is right with the world instead of only seeing what is wrong with it.
Gratitude and optimism, essential components of resilience, reinforce each other because the positive expectation associated with optimism is often fuelled by noticing the good things that are happening in our lives.
Increases sense of well-being
Writing a letter of gratitude to someone for whom you feel thankful can increase a sense of well-being for many weeks following.
We can train our brains to notice, more and more, the good things in our lives, thereby fighting the negativity bias and creating a more balanced view of the world.
Before bed, when we bring to mind three good things that happened during our day, it can be easier to fall asleep and enjoy better dreams.
Gratitude practices to try
Linda Graham offers some ways to practice gratitude.
Take photos on a cellphone of things you are grateful for as you go throughout the day.
Share experiences of appreciation with a “gratitude buddy” by email, text, or phone every day.
Gratitude at dinner
Express moments of gratitude around the family dinner table.
Bring nuance to your gratitude by practicing rose-thorn-bud: rose representing something you’re grateful for; the thorn, something hard or unpleasant; and bud, your hopes for tomorrow.
Each day, journal three bad things that didn’t happen—a check that didn’t bounce, your car that didn’t get dinged in a parking lot, or you didn’t come down with a cold after all.