This post covers questions that people frequently ask about gratitude. Read on to know how a gratitude practise can bring more richness to your life.
A regular gratitude practice can help infuse life with inspiration, meaning, and beauty. Gratitude can help someone switch from negative emotions to positive ones more quickly. No one gratitude practice is better than the other.
As I put one foot in front of the other, I notice the different scents, the breeze, and the colors around me. I always appreciated these parts of my walks, but after several years of developing and investing in a gratitude habit, my appreciation has intensified. It’s as if the parts of my brain responsible for feeling gratitude—my emotional and “gratitude” muscle memory—have strengthened significantly.
According to Dr. John Kelly, writing in Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, “When we decide to focus on all that is working in our lives without denying current burdens, we cultivate more positive thinking and thankfulness. This practice lowers the threshold for feeling-good circuits to discharge in our brain and raises our baseline happiness index.”
Both during the height of the pandemic and the present time, I’ve discovered walking as not only invigorating but inspirational. This suggests a focus on gratitude, for me, has been working. Psychological research shows that “expressing gratitude can also enhance physical and psychological well-being,” which provides further evidence for the positive effects of gratitude on my own life.
And it’s not only the walks I go on that feel beautiful and inspiring. Gratitude has affected all aspects of my life. I’ve found inspiration in many different places—in furniture, cooking, enriched time with family, and more. Gratitude has brought perspective and richness into my life in far more ways than I could have ever imagined.
What are the benefits of practicing gratitude?
A recent NPR article points to the benefits of a regular gratitude practice by highlighting a doctor’s use of a gratitude journal during the COVID pandemic: “By intentionally cultivating gratitude, for even a short period each day, [Dr.] Shamasunder found it easier to evoke positive feelings throughout the day.” The article goes on to describe how the regular, frequent practice of positive emotions can help your brain switch from a negative emotion to a positive one faster.
Personally, I’ve noticed a greater uptick in positive emotions such as joy, inspiration, awe, motivation, and satisfaction, compared to negative ones. There is plenty of research that supports the idea that gratitude is a gateway to more positive emotions, suggesting that a regular gratitude practice can help, more broadly, to “invite” more happiness.
What’s the best gratitude practice for me?
Which gratitude practice you use is a personal decision. Apps are an option, as is pen-and-paper journaling. Some apps have a built-in social component, which may be a motivating factor for those who wish to share their gratitude with others.
No one gratitude practice is better than the other; the level of effort and focus on regular and savored appreciation is what matters.
How do I know that my gratitude practice is working?
Practicing gratitude is like learning to ride a bike. At first, it can feel new and awkward. That doesn’t mean it’s not working. But soon, you’ll notice your mind direct attention to a grateful thought; at that point, you can rest assured that the practice is working.
When the practice becomes regular and unconscious—without you having to reserve time to reflect—that’s when you’ve learned to ride the bike, so to speak.