For some people, practicing gratitude is part of their spiritual practice or religion, while for others it’s about cultivating a more positive outlook on life.
Whatever someone’s reason for practicing gratitude is, there is no doubt about the benefits to be gained.
Let’s take a look at the 8 surprising benefits of practicing gratitude every day.
1) Improved mood
Are you disappointed in life?
Do you have a tendency to be in a bad mood and obsess about everything that’s wrong with your life, and the world?
If you answered “yes”, you could definitely benefit from practicing gratitude.
Let me explain.
When you practice gratitude, you shift your focus from negative thoughts and feelings to positive ones.
Instead of thinking about everything that makes you unhappy or all the things that are missing from your life, gratitude makes you think about all the things that are good – no matter how big or small.
Practicing gratitude will make you feel more optimistic and help you realize that life isn’t as bad as you thought.
2) Increased happiness
Here’s the truth: People who practice gratitude regularly are happier that people who don’t.
The reason is really quite simple.
Practicing gratitude every day means focusing on all the good things in your life.
And why is that good? Because it creates positive emotions and improves overall life satisfaction.
In other words, you’ll cultivate a positive mindset and realize that you have plenty of reasons to be happy.
3) Better relationships
Now, how can practicing gratitude improve your friendships?
Because when you think about all the things you are grateful for, you’re bound to think of the people in your life that you care for – your family and friends.
And once you realize how grateful you are to have them in your life, chances are that you’ll want to show them how much they mean to you.
Instead of taking the people closest to you for granted, you’ll probably get the urge to show them just how much you appreciate them, and that can strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship.
See what I mean?
4) Reduced stress
People often feel stressed because they’re facing a certain problem.
Maybe they’re having trouble at work, maybe they’re in financial difficulty, or maybe they feel like they’re just not good enough at something.
But by practicing gratitude, they’re able to put things in perspective.
For example, they may get all worked up over some administration they need to get done (been there, done that!) They’ll even lose sleep because they’ll be thinking about the bureaucracy that they have to face.
But when they practice gratitude, they’ll realize that they’re healthy, they have a home, food on the table, and people who love them. A little administration is really no big deal. And so, their feelings of stress and worry will reduce, if not disappear altogether.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
5) Increased resilience
Did you know that practicing gratitude can help you to build resilience?
Focusing on what you are grateful for can help you develop a positive mindset which will give you the strength to cope with challenging situations.
6) Better sleep
The truth is that if you have trouble sleeping, practicing gratitude could be a game-changer for you:
Usually when people have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s because they’re worried and anxious.
They’re thinking about how they said the wrong thing to their boss, or how the next day they have a million things to do.
Practicing gratitude can significantly improve sleep quality because it promotes positive feelings. When you think about everything that makes you happy and that you appreciate, you’ll find that you feel calmer and more relaxed.
So, focus on what you are grateful for before bed, and you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
7) Improved self-esteem
Instead of focusing on all the things that you’re bad at or things you’ve failed at, practicing gratitude will shift your focus on all the amazing things you’ve accomplished.
And once you realize that, you’ll boost your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Just focus on what you are grateful for in yourself, it will help you to appreciate your own strengths and talents.
8) Help with chronic pain
By promoting positive emotions, practicing gratitude has been shown to have a positive impact on pain perception.
You see, positive emotions release endorphins (feel-good hormones) as well as other “natural” painkillers in the body.
And the result?
Another way that gratitude can help with chronic pain is by shifting your focus from pain to positive aspects of your life – in other words, things you’re grateful for.
How to practice gratitude
Now that we’ve had a look at the benefits of practicing gratitude, I’d like to give some suggestions on how to practice gratitude.
It’s up to you to see what works best for you.
Keep a gratitude journal
It’s a good idea to keep a gratitude journal because it will remind you to take a few moments each day and think about what you are grateful for that day.
You can make a sort of ritual out of it.
For example, every day before going to bed, you can make yourself a cup of herbal tea and write down at least one thing that you’re grateful for that day, that’s what I do.
And even if you’ve had a horrible day, if you look hard enough, you’ll find something to be grateful for.
In my case, when nothing seems to be going my way and I become depressed, I hug my dogs and I feel grateful for their unconditional love.
Express your gratitude
If you’re not into keeping journals, you may think about expressing or showing your gratitude.
This means letting the people you love and care about know how much they mean to you.
Now, you can tell them in person, write them a nice note, or show them how grateful you are to have them in your life by doing something special for them, like taking them out to dinner or a concert or something else they’d like.
Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.
Even though we all know that our friends and family care about us, it’s always nice to be reminded of this fact and to know that they’re not taking us for granted.
Ever heard of mindfulness?
It’s a type of meditation in which you focus on the present moment.
I know what you’re thinking, “Who has time to meditate?”
But by spending even 10 minutes being mindful each day, you’re more likely to notice the little things around you that you’re grateful for.
You’re not thinking about an opportunity you missed yesterday or something you hope to achieve in the future. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for now, in this moment?”
And here’s another interesting fact about mindfulness – it’s all about cultivating an attitude of acceptance.
You see, it encourages you to observe your thoughts without judgment. And when you do that, you’re more likely to notice the positive things in your life instead of focusing on the negative ones.
In short: You’ll learn to appreciate what you have instead of thinking about what you’re missing.
Count your blessings
This means taking a few minutes each day to consciously acknowledge the good things in your life, no matter how big or small.
Make a mental note of all the things you’re thankful for in your life such as your health, your family, your friends, having a roof over your head, your job, and even the food in your belly.
Counting your blessings can help you shift your perspective and help you focus on the positive aspects of your life instead of the negative ones, resulting in a feeling of contentment and satisfaction.
Reflect on challenging experiences
Think about how the difficult and even painful experiences in your life have taught you something or helped you grow as a person.
Appreciate the lessons learned.
Use visual cues
Finally, you may decide to place little objects around your home or office that will remind you about everything you are grateful for.
For example, photos of your loved ones or mementos from your trips that remind you how lucky you are to have traveled so much.
Remember that the key to practicing gratitude is to focus on the positive things in your life. By making gratitude a daily habit, you’ll experience greater happiness, reduced stress levels, and improved overall well-being.