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The practice of gratitude

I'm sure like most of us, you have seen a lot on social media and in the news or heard through talking to friends or colleagues about the practice of gratitude. It is often spoken about in relation to self-care and it is encouraged by therapists and coaches alike.

Gratitude is an emotion that reflects our deep appreciation for what we value, what brings meaning to our lives, and what makes us feel connected to ourselves and others.

- Brené Brown in Atlas of the Heart

Practising gratitude has become a part of my daily routine, through encouragement from my therapist. When I first started out, trying to write down three things I was grateful for each day seemed like an unachievable task. What else could I write down that I was grateful for other than my friends, my family and having a house to call home? But then I started to think about it more and realised that actually, it's not just the people or the big moments in our life that we can be grateful for. I started noticing the smaller things I was grateful for each day. The things I often take for granted. It was through noticing those things that I realised there are things to be grateful for every day, even on the bad days.

While gratitude is an emotion, if we want to experience its full power, we must also make it a practice.

- Brené Brown in Atlas of the Heart

There is a lot of research and subsequent evidence that gratitude is good for us physically, emotionally and mentally. If you have never thought to say, think or write down something or some things that you are grateful for, I encourage you to try it now. These are mine for today:

  1. I am grateful for the blue skies and the sun today as it helped to life my mood when I woke up this morning and it meant I didn't need to worry about rain on my commute to the office.

  2. I am grateful for the hot water we have so that I could take a long shower when I got back from work to wash off the day.

  3. I am grateful that I didn't make any plans this evening which has meant I have been able to enjoy some time to myself, reading and catching up with a friend I've not spoken to for a while.

I hope that gives you something to start with. What you are grateful for will differ from person to person. Sometimes it might be big things like being grateful for a friendship group that supports you, or that you got offered that job you interviewed for. Sometimes it can be as small as being grateful that you remembered to buy that key ingredient last week so that you could make your favourite meal this evening.

Have a go. And do it consistently. For a few days to begin with and then maybe for a few weeks. See if it helps. It definitely helps me.

Gratitude makes us appreciate the value of something, and when we appreciate the value of something, we extract more benefits from it; we're less likely to take it for granted.

- Robert Emmons

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