hands holding the sun with sunset on backgound ** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizes

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present.
 
In addition, behavioural and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.
 
Here is a link to what Oprah, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Lylanda and TD Jakes have to say on the subject.
 

Research Shows Gratitude Heightens Quality of Life

Studies have shown daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. As well as less depression and stress, people were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
 
Happiness was also increased by around 25%. This is significant, as your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.
 
Also those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. And remember, when expressing gratitude this is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.

Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one.
 
In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.
 
Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

 

There are Many Ways to Practice Gratitude

1. Keep a gratitude journal – every day first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night write down a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful and no duplication is allowed. Great creative. Here is a link to an Emotional Flood exercise by Tony Robbins which only takes 5 minutes.
 
2. Write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. You could send this letter to them, read it to them face to face or express it over the phone.
 
3. Last year millions of people in Kansas took up the challenge to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping instead replacing it with gratitude. To help them keep on track they wore a purple wrist band as a reminder.
 
Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted.
Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations.
Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.