Why practice gratitude?

In my last blog post, I recommended reflection as an antidote to that ‘time flies feeling.’ I suggested three questions and I want to explore them a little more deeply in the next few blog posts.  The first question was:

What has happened so far this year that I am truly grateful for?

You have probably heard people mention practicing gratitude or maybe you have read about it somewhere. Oprah popularized it with her gratitude journal but she wasn’t the first person to tap into the value of practicing gratitude. For many people of faith, being grateful is a spiritual discipline. Every major religion encourages its followers to be grateful. There are definite benefits to being grateful. Some of the ways the benefits I have experienced from practicing gratitude include:

  1. It breaks the cycle of comparison. In our social media feeds we are often exposed to so many inspiring, beautiful and desirable experiences and possessions. It can create a ‘have-not’ feeling. Gratitude breaks that cycle allowing us to focus on all we do have in our lives.
  2. It creates awareness about what we really value. This one practice helps us see what is really important to us. As I list the things that I am grateful for in my life, it becomes fairly obvious what makes the list and what doesn’t make the list. I become more aware of what I value and where I may want to focus my energy more often
  3. It trains my mind to see the positive in my life. We live in a world where there is a lot of negativity and criticism. For some of us (I include myself here) there is a frequent focus on improvement. What could I do better? How could I do more? Gratitude helps me to see that there is a lot that is right in my life.  

In short, gratitude can help us reframe our lives. It can be part of our own appreciative inquiry into our own lives. This week on the Reframe Your Life podcast, we interviewed resilience expert Jeff Hendler. He shared with us how transformative his own practice of examining his day and focusing on what went well has helped him.

Do you practice gratitude? How has it been a benefit to you?