3 Reasons to Practice Gratitude
Gratitude practices go along well with mindfulness. When we are practicing gratitude we are in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally acknowledging things that are going well in our lives, things we appreciate, as well as our inner qualities. This leads to increased feelings of happiness. I started my gratitude practice after doing a free course online during the pandemic called The Science of Happiness, which is taught at Harvard and was put online. The professor, Dr. Laurie Santos, also has a podcast called The Happiness Lab (which I highly recommend checking out). While I did this back in early 2021, I have maintained a gratitude practice since. It's part of my morning routine, along with meditation.
Starting a gratitude practice is fairly simple, you think of 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for and either say them aloud or write them in a journal. I find that doing this at the same time each day (either first thing in the morning, or right before bed is the easiest). Even when we're having a bad day, there are usually at least 3 things we can find to be grateful for. Examples of things to include are big things happening in your life (ex., promotion, getting engaged, etc.), important people (ex, your mom, your best friend, etc.), small things you often forget about (ex., fresh air, clean water to drink, sunshine, morning coffee, etc.), and attributes about yourself (ex., my resilience, my enthusiasm, etc.). I find the last piece - attributes about myself - to be the most beneficial for feeling good (especially because most of us find faults). If you find this hard to do, you can always try doing a lovingkindness meditation or some other self-compassion mindfulness practice right before or after.
So here are the 3 reasons to start a gratitude practice:
Research shows that it improves happiness by a few points within a few weeks of starting.
It increases self-compassion when we start to be grateful for our own attributes.
It encourages mindfulness - be present in the moment and express ourselves in a nonjudgmental way.
Let me know how your gratitude practices go, and don't forget about the free 5-minute meditation challenge on YouTube.