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The Practice of Gratitude

Have you ever experienced that sense that your current possessions are never enough to satisfy you? Do you constantly seek the newest and greatest hi-tech gadget? Or do you experience the feeling you are always seeking a better, more fulfilling relationship?

If you said, “yes,” to any of the above questions, practicing gratitude may be the key to increasing your happiness.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is the practice of noticing and appreciating the positive aspects in one’s life [1].

Why is gratitude important?

Gratitude is related to increased emotional and physical well-being!

Prior research has consistently shown materialism is related to lower levels of life satisfaction [2]. A person who experiences gratitude can influence their satisfaction with their current possessions and ultimately reduce their perceived need to purchase more and more possessions. Further, focusing on what is positive in your life at this very moment can instill more time to be present and appreciative of current relationships, which may increase your ability to connect and give to others. Additional research has shown gratitude can improve mood, sleep, fatigue, and cardiac health [1]. So, not only can you impact your emotional well-being, you can impact your physical health and resiliency in times of illness.

How do you practice gratitude?

First step - take advantage of daily moments to pause and think about what you are grateful for today. Things you may be grateful for could be as small as getting that highly desired cup of coffee in the morning, or something more substantial like getting in touch with a loved one you have not spoken to for some time. This first step allows you to become more aware of what positively impacts you and others.

To make the most of the beneficial effects of gratitude, make it a habit! Practicing gratitude can be developed into a routine such as journaling regularly about what you appreciate in your life. Journaling does not have to be a time-consuming, arduous task. You could simply write down three things you are grateful for each day. A daily or routine practice can alter your thoughts toward a more positive outlook that will ultimately improve your satisfaction in life and overall well-being.

In summary, the more you practice gratitude the less time there is available for negativity and the never-ending cycle of unmet needs. You have the power to enhance your physical and emotional health, connection with others, and appreciation for your current possessions through the simple practice of gratitude.

References:

[1] Mills, P., Redwine, L., Wilson, K., Pung, M. A., Chinh, K., Greenberg, B., Chopra, D. (2015). The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patients. Spirituality in clinical practice, 2(1), 5.


[2] Tsang, J., Carpenter, T., Roberts, J., Frisch, M., & Carlisle, R. (2014). Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 62-66.

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