When was the last time that you felt truly grateful for something? Feeling gratitude is fostering an appreciation for the things, people or experiences that you have in your life. Fostering gratitude can create an immediate impact on our happiness levels. Studies have shown that participants who write about things that they are grateful for endorse higher levels of happiness than those who write about neutral or negative things. Feeling gratitude can also have long term effects on our emotional well being. If we make gratitude a regular part of our routine, we are more likely to tolerate distress better when negative events occur in our lives. Fostering a sense of gratitude can also increase our overall mood.
How do you foster a sense of gratitude? As with most things in life, there is no one-size fits-all approach. Here are some ways to foster gratitude that may work for you.
- Feel gratitude in the present moment. If you are having an enjoyable moment, take a minute to truly experience gratitude for that experience. You may want to include your senses in this experience i.e. I feel grateful for being at the beach, feeling the warmth of the sand between my fingers, hearing the waves crash against the shore, smelling the scent of sunscreen, seeing the bright sun and tasting the salt of the ocean. By incorporating all of our senses, we can connect with our own experience and intensify the feeling of gratitude
- Start a gratitude journal. Some people find the process of writing very grounding and foster a sense of reflection. Writing in a journal also provides us the opportunity to take a few minutes for ourselves where we are not tending to other people.
- Reflect at the end of day about what you are feeling grateful for. This can become a part of your bedtime routine and is a great way to wind down and focus on the positives in your life rather than focusing on the stressors (which can interfere with falling asleep). You can even start this routine with your children as part of their bedtime routine. Children tend to enjoy reflecting on their day and describing their favorite and most enjoyable parts. It can also be a great way to minimize bedtime crankiness!
- Tell someone that you are grateful for them and the things that they do. Often we focus on what is lacking in our relationships so this can provide us with a new perspective. Showing gratitude in a relationship can also increase our feelings of connection.
Try these gratitude boosts and see how you feel!