There are certain emotional experiences that can define our lives and achievements. One such emotion is gratitude, and, when we choose to seek out and cultivate it in our own lives, this single thing can make an incredible difference.
Why Gratitude Matters
Gratitude is simply “the quality of being thankful.” To get in touch with what this feels like, remember the last time you narrowly avoided a bad consequence: braked just in time to avoid a car accident; got an “all clear” on an important medical test; caught yourself before taking a very bad fall. You feel a wash of adrenaline, and then a heartfelt Thank god (even if you’re not religious). You have an immediate, crystal clear sense of how fortunate you are – not to have crashed your car, not to have a disease, not to have broken your neck. All at once, you appreciate being alive and whole as the gift that it is, a fragile and wonderful state of affairs, something for which you are profoundly grateful.
When you’re in a situation like that, you realize that ordinary life is more than worthy of your full appreciation and thankfulness. You know, suddenly, that all the things you usually think are necessary in order for you to feel fulfilled and satisfied (wealth, power, true love, more stuff, world peace) are truly icing on the cake. That would all be great, but – oh my god: I’m alive.
Avoiding a real threat to life or limb makes you realize that feeling grateful is not actually dependent upon having achieved certain things.
Gratitude is closely related to happiness (people who feel gratitude on a regular basis self-report being happier), and many studies show, for instance, that happiness is not dependent on income, social position, or age.
– via Forbes
Gratitude may seem like a simple concept, but putting it into practice in your own life can have enormous benefits. If you’re ready to put the power of this positive habit to work in your own life, consider this small change to end each day with a practice of gratitude.
Practice Gratitude Nightly
The best time to exercise gratitude is just before bed. Take out your tablet (electronic or otherwise) and record the events of the day that created positive emotions, either in you or in those around you.
Did you help somebody solve a problem? Write it down. Did you connect with a colleague or friend? Write it down. Did you make somebody smile? Write it down.
What you’re doing is “programming your brain” to view your day more positively. You’re throwing mental focus on what worked well, and shrugging off what didn’t. As a result, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll wake up more refreshed.
Reprogramming Your Brain
More important, you’re also programming your brain to notice even more reasons to feel gratitude. You’ll quickly discover that even a “bad day” is full of moments that are worthy of gratitude. Success becomes sweeter; failure, less sour.
The more regularly you practice this exercise, the stronger its effects.
Over time, your “gratitude muscle” will become so strong that you’ll attract more success into your life, not to mention greater numbers of successful (i.e., grateful) people. You’ll also find yourself thanking people more often. That’s good for you and for them, too.
– via Inc.com
Are there any places or experiences that help you cultivate more gratitude in our own life? Can you see yourself putting the nightly practice of gratitude into place?