When it comes to gratitude, do you find that each night you spend 10 minutes listing 3 things in your gratitude journal and then don’t think about it again until the following night… when it’s time to think of 3 more things?
If so, did you know that gratitude is not just about feeling good and creating positive energy, it’s scientifically proven to be good for your mental, emotional and physical health too. Yep, science says so!
To practice gratitude is to train your brain and thoughts to recognise and focus on what is really important and beautiful in your life (and in this world), rather than jumping to comparisons or the negative automatically. Basically, to actively be grateful for the positives.
And it’s just that, practice. Like everything in life, if we want something to come more naturally and without as many challenges, it takes practice.
Whilst we have spoken about the wonderful positive energy that gratitude perpetuates and the positive outcomes of that (here, for example), there are a few elements to gratitude that are not as frequently discussed…
The Top Unexpected Benefits of Being Grateful
Much like kindness, being grateful can be perceived as being fluffy and potentially a sign of ‘weakness’. Quite the opposite. Gratitude helps give us strength and confidence in ourselves.
When you look at your life and truly appreciate what is great about it, you can’t help but start feeling good. Everything from waking up in a cosy bed to a sunny morning or enjoying a great cup of coffee, to the wonderful people you love. When you sit and think about it, the positives sure add up.
Rather than trying to pull ourselves down, once we start recognising the good things and giving them more energy than we give to the parts not going so well or comparing ourselves to others, we feel so much better about what we have and our achievements.
The moment we begin to let go of comparison our self-esteem increases. Your life is about YOU not someone else, so own it! #youdoyou
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.”
Similarly, the more we recognise positives and our self confidence increases the more resilient we become.
The higher our self-esteem, the less we seek external validation. Which means that we are more internally motivated and we can take a few ‘knocks’ knowing that we have the strength and ability to overcome it.
Likewise, we all go through varying degrees of hardship. If we’re able to see the light as we go through these times, we’re able to see that life isn’t ‘all bad’ and have a much more balanced view of the situation.
When you know what you’re grateful for each day, you know what’s important to you. This enables you to be more focused on where you want to be and what you need to achieve, giving you clarity.
(This is especially true of you keep a list or journal of what you are grateful for and your goals. Studies indicate that you are more productive and make greater progress if you have documented your goals.)
This clarity saves time that would otherwise be spent on unimportant distractions and enables you to be more focused on what needs to be done. Plus, if you’re not caught up in what someone else is thinking, doing or has, think of all of the extra time you have to invest back into your own life!
Due to your increased positivity and self-esteem, you’re also in a better mindset to strive for your goals and appreciate your progress along the way. Your positive attitude also naturally gives you more energy as we feel good when we’re motivated and achieving.
All of this adds up to a more productive you. More decisive, more confident, less distracted and with a lot more time to kick some goals!
The combination of increased self-esteem, improved focus on the end goal, a more balanced view of the world and a reduced inclination to participate in negative self-talk, all help reduce stress.
As does the lack of inclination to compare yourself to others. Not viewing other people as ‘the competition’ takes away a lot of unnecessary pressure. It also means that you’re more likely to be happy for people and to celebrate their success rather than finding it threatening.
Making for a more accepting, inclusive and happy state of mind.
Convinced? Awesome! How are you going to practice gratitude today?
How do you practice gratitude?