Feeling grateful is such a quick and easy path to feeling good. Gratitude slams stress, axes anxiety and destroys depression every single time. Science shows that grateful people are happy people and actually live longer. In fact, according to UC Berkeley, grateful people enjoy these benefits:
- Stronger immune systems
- Less bothered by aches and pains
- Lower blood pressure
- Exercise more and take better care of their health
- Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More alert, alive, and awake
- More joy and pleasure
- More optimism and happiness
- More helpful, generous, and compassionate
- More forgiving
- More outgoing
- Feel less lonely and isolated.
So what is gratitude exactly?
Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, “First,” he writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Here’s some ways you can cultivate more feelings of gratitude:
- Three Things
This is a proven technique for improving subjective wellbeing (SWB) and resilience. In fact, it forms part of the US Army’s, Master Resilience Program…and it’s so easy! Before you go to sleep, simply write down three things that went well through the day. Easy peasy!
‘The Best Bit’ – great to do with the family around the dinner table. Encourage everyone to describe the ‘best bit’ of their day. This encourages children, in particular, to look for the good.
‘The Grateful Three’ – write down three things that you’re grateful for, right here and right now, in your morning journaling session. Try and make them three different things each day.
- Time Capsule
Keep a money box (or any other container that can’t be opened easily) and write down the little day to day wins. They might be a celebration, a milestone or an achievement. Often these little things are quite huge at the time but easily forgotten. Write little notes and fold them and deposit into your money box to be opened all together at a chosen time. Christmas Eve is perfect.
- Gratitude Letter
Not only does this one increase the positive affect of the recipient but it’s been proven to improve the writer’s subjective wellbeing (SWB) for up to three months afterwards! This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Simply write a letter to someone that you feel grateful for and might not have necessarily told them. The effects of this practice are greatly enhanced if you actually read the letter in person.
So there you have it, some easy ways to help yourself to feel good, and the reasons why. I personally have used all of these methods at one time or another and I can truly vouch for their effectiveness.
Give one or all of them a shot and let me know how you go.