Cultivating a Habit of Gratefulness
There is one powerful emotion that brings the best out of life.
It keeps sickness away.
It breaks heaviness and depression.
It attracts friendship.
It makes us feel more alive.
According to Dr. McCullough of the New York Times, a University of Miami researcher, feelings of gratitude benefit more than just oneself. “More than any other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship. It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person.
After taking my Personality DISC Profile, I saw that I am a C. DISC stands for the four major categories people into four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. C stands for Compliance which in other reword for the same profile is called “Conscientious”. C’s are more concerned with data and accuracy to the point of leaving people behind. This also leads them to be more analytical.
Seeing that my DISC Profile is C, it has been a constant struggle to create a habit of Gratefulness. Being prone to criticizing and analytical, I was clueless why other people have it easier to be thankful. The good news is that gratefulness is a muscle that can be strengthened through habit. Through constant practice we can strengthen this muscle. Here are some habits that could help you cultivate gratitude.
1. Journal your Blessings Daily.
I used to write new thoughts and ideas I have. It brings me a lot of joy finding a new idea. But what was eye opening is if you write down your personal life. When I was in high school, I always thought journals are for girls. Now, I understand how powerful it is in understanding ourselves more. And more than journaling, you could set up thought patterns that bring you to gratefulness. This is done by writing down gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude about ordinary events, loved ones in your life, or your positive personal attributes.
And, do it everyday. Commit 10-15 minutes of your day writing it down. Eventually it will become more automatic.
2. Practice Naikan Meditation
Naikan is a meditation technique started in Japan. Like Shinto, it focuses in your relationship to yourself, other people and nature. If there is conflict, it reflects on other areas of your life. Naikan involves reflecting on three questions:
“What have I received from __?”,
“What have I given to __?”,
“What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
Everyone needs a little help sometimes — and grateful people know there’s no other way to acknowledge this than by paying it forward. In his book “Thanks!,” Emmons notes that those who volunteer often feel grateful for the experience to give back. “Since service to others helped them to ﬁnd their own inner spirituality, they were grateful for the opportunity to serve. As recent research published points out, volunteering can result in lower feelings of depression and increased overall well-being.
4. Use Reminders.
Being analytical and goal oriented, I focus more on things rather than people. Placing pictures of people, situations where you were blessed, where God showed His faithfulness helps you to focus on becoming thankful. It can be a worship music, pictures or quotations that will guide you when you are not thinking of anything. Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude.
5. Know the value of the little things.
Small acts of kindness make a difference in a big way when it comes to cultivating gratitude. Thankful people make it a habit to acknowledge and pay forward each bit of kindness that comes their way, whether it’s a simple compliment, help on a task or getting flowers “just because.”
According to research published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the little things and expressing “everyday” gratitude gave a romantic relationship a better shot of surviving. The study also found that daily gratitude interactions increased relationship connection and overall satisfaction for both men and women.
6. Find time and effort to give and be with loved ones.
Thankful people know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves – and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most. Gratitude really helps us connect to other people. Gratitude strengthens relationships and Relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and coping with stress.
Expressing appreciation for loved ones can also help create a closeness by allowing others to see how you look at them.
7. Embrace Life’s Detours.
Expressing gratitude has been proven to generate more optimism, but thankful people also don’t shy away from the negative. While we often associate gratitude with focusing on the good and avoiding the bad, the key to leading a thankful life is embracing setbacks as part of your overall journey. Recall a hard time you once experienced – chances are, you’ll start to feel grateful for your current state and overcoming former challenges.
When you find yourself in a bad situation ask: What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what will I be grateful for?
8. Get moving.
They may not seem related, but gratitude and fitness actually go hand-in-hand. Excercising takes away stress and regulates blood circulation and waste disposal of the body. It releases the necessary hormones to be happy, and consequently can assist thankfulness. The results found that those who exercise had fewer dietary restrictions and were less likely to smoke or abuse alcohol.
Exercising has been proven to clear your mind and reduce stress, all key components in setting yourself up for gratitude. Thankful people who move their feet experience an overall healthier mind and body, therefore making gratitude one of the best medicines.
I have written all this but I have a lot to learn. 😀
How thankful are you? If you have learned from this, help others by sharing 😀