Gratitude is a flower that blooms in noble souls.
In a world filled with so much negativity and bitterness, we have to push ourselves to look for the positive. As difficult as it seems sometimes, I can tell you from personal experience that committing daily to see your blessings and to express gratitude gives your heart a sense of joy. I have found that having a daily gratitude practice takes a conscious effort and discipline, but the rewards are far beyond anything I imagined.
The evidence for the benefits of gratitude is more than just anecdotal–science backs them up. Leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons has found that practicing gratitude can lead to a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and more restorative sleep. It can also make you more alert, decrease feelings of isolation, boost mood, and help to strengthen relationships.
It’s easy to see the benefits but is gratitude something that you’re born feeling? Sure, this comes very easily to some as they are more predisposed to positivity. Others like myself have to work at this and make it a daily ritual. Even still, it’s worth the extra effort as it helps transform my perspective each day.
Every morning when I awake, I am grateful for my first breath. I’m thankful for the gorgeous sun rising over the mountains and this amazing country. My family and my ability to make good, educated choices throughout my day are gifts, and I try to acknowledge that.
I am grateful for my team at work and will look for areas to acknowledge them whenever possible. I train my brain to think positive thoughts about what may unfold in my day. Without this mindful determination, negativity can take over, spilling over from the day or even the week before. Instead, I see each day as a new canvas ready to paint. I’m in control because I’ve decided to let gratitude lead.
I recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Write down your daily blessings as they unfold throughout your day and your heart will start to fill with so much joy. Observe those around you–your spouse, coworkers, grocery store clerk, teachers, baristas–there is kindness everywhere. Acknowledging it will make all the difference in the world. And when the tough times arise you can look back at your many blessings and smile. Trust me, when you need a lift and feel the world crashing down on you, this will help immensely.
Once you’ve developed this practice, take it a step further. Speak it, tell people you are thankful for their actions, words, acts of kindness, both large and small. Your heart will fill and so will the person you shared this with. Turn off those awful news channels and fill your heart and soul with gratitude. Slowly we can all make this world a better place. As the talented Diana Ross sings, “Go out and touch someone you love and make this world a better place if you can.”