The Power of Gratitude

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”  - David Rast

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I thought it was the perfect time to talk about gratitude.

The dictionary defines gratitude as: the state of being grateful; thankfulness.

Gratitude is simply an appreciation for what you have in your life.  It can be as simple as being thankful for the air you breathe.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to not even give that a second thought, yet without it, things would not be so wonderful.

Gratitude may be a simple practice, but it is powerful and has the ability to bring more joy to your life.

Dr. Brene Brown says that during her twelve years of research, she discovered a relationship between joy and gratitude.  In her studies, every single person who described themselves as joyful or their life as joyous - practiced gratitude.

For me personally, adding a daily gratitude practice made a huge difference in my life. It helped me become more aware of the simple, everyday things that I’m so blessed to have, but didn’t always think about or took for granted, such as the air I breathe.

When I start the day in gratitude, it creates an overall feeling of joy that carries over into the rest of my day.

Spending just a few minutes a day in gratitude is a powerful practice. Here are some ways you can practice gratitude in your daily life:

  •  My youngest daughter and I came up with a game in which we took turns each saying one thing we were grateful for. We tried to see how long we could continue and keep coming up with new things.  This is something easy and fun to do in the car.
  • First thing in the morning when you wake up, say what you are grateful for.   It can be as simple as the warm, cozy bed you just slept in.
  • Write daily gratitudes in a journal.  This is great to do first thing in the morning and/or at the end of the day. When you know you are going to write things down, you consciously look for things to be grateful for during your day.
  • At the dinner table, take turns sharing one thing you are grateful for that day.  Our family does this each night.  It is a wonderful way to connect.   We also share “what went well” in our day. It encourages us to reflect on our day and to focus on the positive experiences that occurred.

A gratitude study conducted by USC found that those who wrote detailed gratitudes were more elated, excited, and alert compared to a group that wrote only general gratitudes.  A general gratitude would be “I’m grateful for my family.”  To be more detailed, write five reasons why, such as, “I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with my family playing games, laughing and connecting with each other.”  That connects you to the feeling and has a powerful impact.

I would love to hear from you.  What are you grateful for?  Do you have a daily practice that has made a difference in your life?  Please share your comments below.

With Loving Gratitude,