When we think about being grateful, we often think about saying thank you to someone. However gratitude is more than that. In fact, it's something you can practice daily.
Whether it is journaling for five minutes each morning or evening, taking a moment of gratitude before a meal, or writing a thank you note to someone who has been kind or helpful, each and every thought and act of gratitude shapes the brain and tones the heart. It’s easy to become accustomed to our blessings as human beings are naturally adaptable. For this reason, we can become immune to experiencing our financial security or wealth, our health or our devoted relationships in a way that stimulates the continual feeling of gratitude similar to how we felt when we first actualized or came in touch with these gifts of our human experience. It requires intention, and the more we build a gratitude practice, the more it kicks in when we need it. Often times, gratitude is the body’s response to the need to ground or drop out of a worrisome or stressful place. It becomes low-hanging fruit for the moments we need to reframe things with a shift in perspective or consciousness and can literally pull us out of a dark hole. When gratitude becomes a habit, without even realizing it, we find ourselves thinking about what we're grateful for, because that is the pattern or groove we have created in our brain. I think of it as the gratitude imprint.
Through practice we are able to cultivate gratitude as an internalized coping mechanism, breeding an emotional and chemical climate of resiliency, greater peace, and equanimity. This brings us back to gratitude repeatedly as the feel-good experience in our bodies and minds is worthy of our craving.
[JW1]a1. Positive Psychology Progress (2005, Seligman, M. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C.)
a2. Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life
a3. Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Satisfaction with Life: Incremental Validity Above the Domains and Facets of the Five Factor Model