By: Kaitlin Cross, MA, LPC-Intern
The Power of Gratitude
With the holidays quickly approaching, I am reminded of the importance of gratitude. Research shows the benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Robert Emmons, psychologist and author of Thanks!: How the Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, states several advantages to practicing gratitude including:
- Gratitude allows us to be in the present moment
- Gratitude blocks toxic emotions
- Grateful people are more resilient to stress
- Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth
However, gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions. Sure, it’s easy to be reminded to be grateful during the holidays, or big accomplishments, but one could show gratitude for something as small as someone opening the door for them, a compliment, or saying thank you.
When practicing gratitude, it is so easy to look only inward, on what personally makes us thankful. However, gratitude can also be spread to others through our actions. This could be to your loved ones, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, or even complete strangers! With that, I thought it would be helpful to highlight some easy ways for you and your family to incorporate gratitude, both as a personal practice and to spread the power of gratitude to others!
- Notice and delight in the small stuff
- By pausing to notice and take in little things throughout the day, such as a sunset or appreciating a stranger that held the door for you, you’ll feel more appreciative.
- Write a gratitude letter to someone
- Take some time to sit down with your child and write a gratitude letter to a family member or other individual. Don’t worry about it being perfect, state it straight from the heart. You and your child might not just make someone’s day but impact their overall life.
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Listing out 3-5 things you are grateful for and share with others once in a while.
- Meditate/ Pray
- Maintain a daily practice of mindfulness or prayer.
- Look for the positive in frustrating situations and discuss it
- Take time after difficult situations and discuss what benefits or gains may be taken from the situation. Often mistakes are the biggest opportunities for growth.
- Look for awe-inspiring moments throughout the day
- Even something small, could add a positive to your day.
- Make a gratitude jar
- Obtain a physical jar and write on individual slips what you are grateful for, add to it throughout the year, and reread them towards the end.
- Share your gratitude at bedtime
- Spend 5 minutes before bed thinking or asking what you or your family what you are most thankful for.
- Share your gratitude at the dinner table
- During the meal, spend time by going around and state what you are grateful for.
- Compliment others
- Provide a kind comment or observation about someone.
- Keep it positive on social media
- While we all are aware of the negative effects of social media, the fact is most of us are involved on one type of platform. With that, why not use it as a podium to spread gratitude? When you see an inspirational quote or uplifting post, share it, send it privately to a friend, or tag your loved ones.
- Make a vow to practice gratitude.
- Research shows that making a pledge to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will occur. Therefore, writing your own gratitude vow could encourage you to continue your daily practice. It could simply be “I vow to count my blessings every day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it each day.
- Participate in a random act of kindness
- Treat someone to a coffee, buy a lunch for someone in need, give someone your aisle seat on an airplane, donate to a community shelter or organization. The opportunities are never-ending!
- Volunteer to help others
- Getting out in the community an easy way to show people their wellbeing matters to you. Whether you’re volunteering at a school, hospital, foodbank, community storehouse, or participating in a fundraiser to support a charity, you’re getting out there for a good cause and inspiring others to do the same! Those on the receiving end of your efforts will be so appreciative of the time and energy you spent to help them.
- Finally, one of the quickest, easiest way to increase gratitude both in yourself and others. By smiling your brain releases endorphins, making you feel happy and less stressed, and also spreading kindness naturally to others.
Here are some additional gratitude prompts to help get you started:
This month, I hope we’ve inspired you to not only practice gratitude within but to also spread gratitude to family, friends, and complete strangers. We, here at North Texas Counseling Associates, want to express our gratitude to you all for letting us offer support to you and your loved ones each and everyday!