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The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, gratefulness or thankfulness. Gratitude is attitude of thankfulness for what an individual receives in a tangible or intangible way. Gratitude is a way in which people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.
Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves. They start to recognize that the goodness they are experiencing is partially, if not completely outside themselves and part of a larger tapestry. This can be expressed as a deeper connection to our fellow humans, Mother Nature, the Universe, a Higher Power or a combination of all of these.
In the mental health field, specifically in the school of positive psychology, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and well being. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, improve their overall health, deal with difficult situations, appreciate good experiences, experience less negative symptoms of stress and build stronger relationships.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Gratitude is a way to cultivate an appreciation for all the positive things already in your life. It redirects your energy from focusing on the negative and helps you recognize the value of challenges that life will inevitably throw your way. Living with an attitude of gratitude will help you focus on the abundance in your life, instead of what might be perceived as lacking. It gives you a daily reminder of what is important in life. When you feel grateful that your family is happy, health and safe, not having the latest iPhone becomes insignificant. It also slows us down, as we become more mindful and aware of each day and each moment we have been blessed with life ”“ we become more thankful for our life and the lives that surround us. You might even find yourself saying Thank you more often.
How To Express Gratitude
It might seem silly at first, but numerous studies in positive psychology show that over time a regular practice of daily gratitude will improve your overall sense of well being and cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and happiness. Here are some different ways to start your daily practice of gratitude.
1. Each morning or evening write down 10 things you are grateful for.
2. Say thank you each time someone does something for you.
3. Start a gratitude journal and each day write about one thing you”™re grateful for in your life.
4. Practice gratitude on your yoga mat.
5. Meditate on all that you grateful for.
6. Pick a time each week to mindfully review your week and write about 3-5 experiences from the week you are happy happened to you.
7. Learning or creating a gratitude prayer that you can keep around you to remind you to keep a sense of gratitude throughout your day.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend” – Melody Beattie
Anndrea is a Professional Wellness Counselor and Yoga Teacher who works with individuals who are ready to embrace change and a life of wellness. She is also the founder of halcyon-wellness.com