How Gratitude Makes You Feel Better
How Gratitude Makes You Feel Better
There is a lot of talk about gratitude and you can find a lot of information about it on social media. I personally love gratitude and this blog is all about why and how to incorporate it easily into your daily life.
Why is gratitude so great?
What does gratitude actually do?
When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our mind into a different mode. Gratitude and appreciation create a sense of wellbeing. We feel calmer and more relaxed. Our brain gets flooded with feel good hormones, especially if we express our gratitude towards other people.
What’s happening in the brain?
Gratitude changes how a little known part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (or RAS) works. The RAS acts as our mind’s filter.
It helps us to prioritise what we take in or what we focus on. For example if you are in a noisy place your are able to mentally cut out the noise and focus on what the person you are listening to is saying.
The RAS is shaped by our thoughts and actions. If we constantly have a conversation in our mind about the things we don’t like, we focus even more on those as a consequence.
This is where gratitude comes in. By consciously focussing on things that we are grateful for, our subconscious gets the message that this is important. As a result our RAS starts to look for the positive aspects in our life. The more positive things we notice in our life, the better we feel. And the better we feel the more positive aspects we notice and the more gratitude we experience.
Below are a few tips on how to incorporate gratitude into your daily life
Gratitude in the morning
It can be great to start the day by focussing on what we are grateful for in our life. For me this can be as simple as enjoying the yummy smell of my shower gel or noticing the little blackbird in our garden hopping around in search for some worms. Try it yourself, what are little things in your morning routine, that you can feel gratitude for? You will find it puts you in a better mood, even if you haven’t slept that well the night before.
Gratitude throughout the day
I’m a strong believer in taking time throughout the day to acknowledge when I experienced something positive. That could be a nice cup of tea, seeing something beautiful in nature or having spent quality time with a good friend. It doesn’t need to be something big to make a difference to your day. Even a small piece of chocolate, eaten with full awareness, can give us a moment of appreciation and gratitude (Yes, I like chocolate). Every time you practice gratitude, you feel a little bit uplifted.
Gratitude at night
Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? I find that practicing gratitude at night simply makes me feel better. I naturally tend to have a racing mind which I keep in check with meditation. But at the end of a busy day, I can still find myself struggling to fall asleep. A little while ago I started the practice of thinking of at least 3 things I was grateful for after I switched off the light. It relaxes me so much that sometime I fall asleep after the third thought.
Keep a list of things that make you smile
Sometimes it can be hard to feel any gratitude at all. I remember during the lockdowns that I had to put an extra effort in to make sure I still could get a sense of appreciation. What can be really helpful is having a list with all the things in life that make you feel good. And when you compile the list, be generous, put all those small things on there. For me it’s having fresh flowers in the house. During lockdowns I made sure that I always had some fresh flowers in the kitchen in a prominent spot, because every time I looked at them, they made me smile. On my list, there’s also playing with our dog, hugging my husband, having a Chai tea, watching the sunset, watching the parrots in the local park, walking on the beach etc. In the end, it’s the little things that make us happy.
I invite you to try some of these strategies. Find what works best for you. The more gratitude you can experience every day, the more positive you will feel about yourself and your life. And that surely is a good thing, isn’t it?
If you would like to practice gratitude you can also listen to or download a mediation here : Gratitude Meditation