How grateful are you for the bed you woke up in this morning? Your answer may depend on the quality of the mattress and the squishiness of the pillow, but harnessing any amount of genuine gratitude will prove itself as a successful technique to increase happiness and improve the quality of your remaining day. It is drastically more important for me to convince you of gratitude’s value than it is to provide you with ways to practice it. The practice is easy and there are various techniques that can be used to best fit your current day to get you feeling great as soon as possible! However, you must trust that the magic is in the why and the how which will be the majority of this article.
The question previously mentioned is not a rhetorical way of saying, “You don’t appreciate enough, and therefore you deserve less!” Instead, it demonstrates the difficulty of the topic we are about to dive into. Gratitude is challenging because we are surrounded by so many things to be grateful for. Our brain would explode if it tried to fully process everything our eyes see and our minds think. This causes our attention to glide over the invention of the sticky note that saved dinner by reminding us to take the chicken out of the freezer to defrost. Forgetting to praise these things is not something to be ashamed of, instead finding and capturing these minuscule moments of appreciation should be thought of as a challenge that has the potential to change our daily behaviors and long-term lives.
Using gratitude as a technique to increase happiness may sound like a cheap trick that’s too simple to be true. If this is a thought that has crossed your mind then you are undisputedly correct, and that is the beauty of the concept! Research has proven that actively practicing gratitude stimulates regions in the brain that result in bettering sleep, stress levels, metabolism, mood, empathy, moral judgement, person-to-person bonding, and much more.
Even though the benefits of practicing gratitude have been proven, the value and level at which it is taken seriously tends to be lessened by its nonexistent price point. As we all know, spending money on luxurious items feels good and provides us with the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good called dopamine. As we also know, money is not infinite. Likewise, hobbies help our brains produce dopamine. However, hobbies often require tools that are not always accessible when we need that pick-me-up of dopamine. The best part about gratitude is that it’s available 24/7 and that it is as infinite as we want it to be. There isn’t much in life that can beat gratitude’s business model.
Now, for the “how.” There are two simple rules to optimize your results. The first is: feeling is the key to finding genuine gratitude. When practicing one of the techniques mentioned in the future, make sure to listen to you your bodies physiological reactions. For example, you find that you are grateful for the big tree that stands outside of your office. Spend a moment with the tree and pay attention to how it makes your heart flutter. That slight indescribable feeling is the signal that you are doing it right.
The second rule is to practice gratitude consistently. By taking time to praise the things that we take for granted, we open our minds to gratitude for the rest of the day. After habitually learning to live in a grateful state, we naturally become more optimistic and aware of the good things in life, thus positively permeating through our entire being.
Here is a list of a few techniques for practicing gratitude. Start a gratitude journal by writing five things you are grateful for each day. You can also experiment by doing this exercise at both the beginning and end of the day while observing the shift in focus throughout the day. Make a string of beads and place something that you’re grateful for in each bead. This can also be done with charm bracelets where each charm represents something you are grateful for. Simply take a walk! Find all the things you are grateful for hidden within a singular object (don’t forget to acknowledge sensory details). Try multiple kinds of meditation. Make the day of a friend or family member by letting them know why you are grateful for them.
If you can commit yourself to even little bit of consistent practice, you will find that gratitude is a treasure that has been hidden in plain sight. Luckily, no big company has been able to put a price or limit on gratitude and that in itself is something to be grateful for.