How gratitude can make you a happier person.
It’s November and the words “thankful” and “grateful” are common themes this time of year.
But what does it really mean to be grateful for something?
Having gratitude for something means truly appreciating it and actually feeling the emotions it brings up. When you put a thought into action (i.e. emoting) it makes it a reality. And what happens to that positive thought when it becomes a reality? It catapults you into more positive thoughts and suddenly you realize you are actually experiencing this moment and living a beautiful, incredible, and meaningful life.
Skeptical? Researchers at University of California, Davis, did a study find out if practicing gratitude could actually increase your overall happiness. They created a couple of focus group and asked participants to write a few sentences every week. The first group was asked to write about things that they were grateful for that happened during the week, the second group was asked to write about irritations or things that displeased them throughout the week, and the third group were asked to just write about anything that happened during the week (no emphasis on positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about positive events were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more, and had fewer overall visits to the doctor than those who focused on negative events.
There have also been studies on people who practice gratitude in their relationships. Those who expressed gratitude for their partners had felt more positive toward that person and had an easier time communicating concerns in that relationship.
Last year, I decided to see for myself if this was actually a thing. I tried a “30 days of gratitude challenge” on my personal Instagram account; every single day during the month of August I posted one thing I was grateful for. This forced me to stay focused on positive things every day, even when I didn’t feel like it. During the entirety of that month, I had people of all kinds reach out to me to say that they had been following my month of gratitude and they looked forward to my positive posts every day. It even inspired some of them to try it themselves!
I urge you to try a gratitude challenge- public or private, and then pay attention to the magical things that start happening in your life. If you’re a tea drinker, try incorporating this practice into your tea ritual: in the morning or evening while your tea is brewing, take a few moments to write down a few things you’re grateful for. Slowing down and drinking a cup of tea will allow you to be present so you can sit with those feelings of gratitude, and attract more positivity into your life.