Gratitude and Mental Health
Gratitude is one of the most effective ways to increase your sense of happiness, purpose, and meaningfulness in life. This includes engaging in grateful thoughts, practicing acts of appreciation, and generating feelings of gratitude.
Happiness researchers have found a strong and consistent link between gratitude and improved health, resilience, more meaningful relationships, increases in well-being, and positive emotions.
According to biomagnetism researchers, the heart has the largest electromagnetic field in the body and is approximately 60 times greater in amplitude in comparison to the brain.
Gratitude practices can change your heart rhythm while also decreasing inflammation, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, you communicate non-verbally through the electromagnetic field of the heart, which is one of the reasons why gratitude improves the quality of your relationships.
8 Essential Daily Gratitude Practices
Below, you’ll find 8 helpful practices to generate grateful thoughts and emotions, and ways to share your gratitude and appreciation with other people.
1. Gratitude List. Write a list of everything in your life that you are grateful for. This will help you to shift out of scarcity thinking, and into a more resourced state of mind. You can write a new list each time or keep a running list and add at least one new item to the list each day. Review your gratitude list anytime you notice that you're engaging in negative thinking.
2. Write About an Intensely Positive Experience. Write about your most vivid memory of an intensely positive experience for at least 5-10 minutes at a time. Try to write with as much detail as possible. You can write about the same experience every time, or pick a new experience each time you write.
3. Gratitude Meditation. You can meditate on gratitude and appreciation to self-soothe and increase your positive emotions. Example: Breathe in the feeling of gratitude and focus on an image that represents something you are grateful for. Breathe out appreciation. Focus on breathing into the heart region. Imagine that your heart is radiating with the energy of gratitude and appreciation, and emanating through your body and all around you. Click here to learn more about this practice and explore additional meditation techniques from a previous blog post.
4. Savoring. Mindfulness and savoring practices are connected to gratitude. By savoring the small pleasures in life, you are slowing down and taking time to appreciate the moment. You can practice savoring food, beverages, taking a deep breath, pleasant aromas, textures, your time with someone, special occasions, and even ordinary moments that you would normally take for granted.
5. Express Gratitude and Appreciation. Sharing feelings and words of gratitude will not only make you feel good, but it can uplift another person and light up a room. You can also express appreciation by writing someone a note of gratitude, practicing acts of kindness, and volunteering. This will help you to feel more connected to other people and to a sense of purpose while embodying the spirit of generosity.
6. Reflect On Your Growth. Focus on what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from your past experiences, even if they were difficult or painful to go through. This practice helps you to embrace challenges so you can gather wisdom from your experiences and move forward instead of getting stuck.
7. Focus On Your Strengths. Make a list of your strengths and how you were able to use them in the past or how you plan to use them in the future. This narrative will help you to focus on positivity, which can reinforce your sense of resilience and fortitude in life. This practice also counteracts negative self-talk and can empower your self-worth and confidence.
8. Be Lucky. Your perspective on life can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether you tend to be optimistic or pessimistic. While this might seem superstitious, research has found that people who think they are lucky tend to experience better luck in life. This means that thinking of yourself as a lucky person can put you in the way of good luck. With this in mind, take a moment each day to reflect on times in your life when you have experienced luck, and how much you look forward to continued good fortune.
Daily gratitude practices will increase your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. The key is to practice gratitude as often as possible throughout your day, even if you aren't feeling particularly positive or grateful. Next time you notice yourself complaining, gossiping, or engaging in scarcity thinking or negative self-talk, practice gratitude until you notice a positive shift in your perspective.