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How Gratitude Changes Your Life
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How Gratitude Changes Your Life

The practice of gratitude has amazing daily benefits.

Gratitude elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms.

Gratitude impacts every aspect of your life for the better.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you. (1 Thes. 5:18)

Gratitude is good for your overall health and wellbeing.

While hustling through the holiday crowds, being scanned, getting a pat down and then sitting on a plane for about 6 hours, I plan on taking some time to recall God’s goodness and the people in my life with heartfelt appreciation.

Wherever you are on your journey, here are a few convincing ways you can intentionally practice gratitude for a much happier and healthier year ahead.

Then take this attitude of gratitude into your everyday life, flowing it forward to those around you.

3 proven benefits of gratitude

Gratitude lights up your brain for happiness

The feeling and practice of gratitude is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction, increasing happiness levels by around 25%. According to the ‘gratitude doctors’ who have been researching gratitude for years, a grateful heart actually changes the neurons and state of your brain, leading to a healthier body, energy level, vitality, optimism, memory, a higher level of positive emotions like hope and happiness – and improved relationships.

Gratitude enhances your ability to forgive

The spiritual practice of gratitude is the cure for excessive materialism, envy, resentment, disappointment, and bitterness – and other states that hinder our happiness. A woman once shared that she had been a victim of a racial crime and was so filled with anger and hatred that is was destroying her life. “Just the one shift in my perspective to be grateful and focus on the good in my life changed my heart and set me free from all the cords of bitterness and hatred.” Research conducted by Dr. Charlotte Witvliet revealed that when you ruminate on negative events and unforgiveness, you feed your stress response and increase negative emotions. However, shifting your thoughts and words to focus on the things you appreciate and are grateful for creates a calming effect and increases positive emotions like joy and peace.

Gratitude helps you deal with hard times

Gratitude brings alive what is good in life and may be even more valuable in difficult times.  Challenges tend to override the brain to focus on fears, pain and negative emotions that vandalize our joy and peace.  But those who cultivate positive emotions like love and gratitude – along with the reality of suffering and loss – report higher levels of vitality and show better psychological and physical functioning in the short and long term.  It’s about seeing the glass half full, not just half empty.

3 practical ways to practice gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal

‘Count Your Blessings’ research continues to show increased levels of happiness, alertness and energy. Before you go to bed at night, consider three things about your day that you are grateful for and the reasons why.  Jot these down in a journal. They can be for the simple or big things, as long as you attune to being aware of feeling appreciation and gratitude. Cultivating gratitude also brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep.

Express your gratitude – in person or a handwritten note

Send handwritten thank you notes or letters of appreciation and affirmation whenever possible. These are becoming a lost art, and for me, one of my most cherished treasures. I save every hand written note. Write a “Gratitude Letter” to someone who has had a positive influence on your life. If possible, read your letter in person.  Say thank you to God, those who serve you, to those who are kind, to those who touch your life in some way. Then, consider passing on the goodness that has been done for you.

Be aware and remind yourself

Savor the moments and events you can be thankful for. Enjoy the taste of a good meal. Be attentive to good times with people. Take a mental picture of the beauty of your surroundings. Use all your senses to heighten your experience and create memories so you can recall and relive them later. Use photos, DVD’s, journals, images and other rituals and practices as reminders to be grateful – because it’s easy to forget. We forget the goodness and kindness shown to us by God. We forget to count our blessings. We forget the generosity and benevolence of others. We forget how we have made it through challenging times.

What triggers and visual reminders help keep you aware of daily cultivating a heart of gratitude?

How are you doing at being grateful?

Read more about Gratitude and take the Quiz on page 154 of the book Flourish.

Recommended reading

Flourish: Discover The Daily Joy of Abundant, Vibrant Living by Catherine Hart Weber

Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

3 Responses to How Gratitude Changes Your Life

  1. Deb Haken / Reply

    December 20, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I LOVE this! I want SO much to be a thankful person! How do we help others be thankful? There is a person very close to me who is very negative. I guess I can model gratitude in front of them, but I would just LOVE to send them this article and say “you need to read this!” Somehow I don’t think they would be receptive to it!

    • Dr Catherine Hart Weber / Reply

      December 21, 2010 at 4:16 am

      Deb,
      I am so glad you were blessed by reading this article. Being around negativity can be difficult . But being grateful and happy can be contaminating. You definitely can begin with a heart attitude of being grateful, and a joy spreader. Blessings to you as you flow gratitude to others around you. Catherine

  2. Guest / Reply

    January 5, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Catherine, you meant contagious instead of contaminating in your reply to Deb, right?

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