The benefits of practicing gratitude are many. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, sleep better, feel more alive, express more kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. It's not even about expressing gratitude about huge events such as the keys to your first house; but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of cake. Research shows that by simply keeping a gratitude journal - regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful - can significantly increase wellbeing and life satisfaction (Carpenter, 2022).
However, for many of us, we can get excited for the first couple of days/weeks to write in our journals, and then we lose the momentum as daily life gets in the way. How do we not just start a gratitude practice, but also maintain it for the long-term? Here are 3 tips by Derrick Carpenter.
The best way to get the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for every day.
Keeping a gratitude journal works as it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on.
While you might be thankful for your wonderful family, just writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week doesn’t keep your brain on alert for fresh grateful moments.
Get specific by writing “Today my partner gave me a shoulder rub when s/he knew I was really stressed” or "My friend invited me over for a meal so I didn't have to cook after a long day." Look beyond the good stuff in front of you. Make a game out of noticing new things each day.
Getting excited about the benefits of gratitude is excellent as it gives us the motivation we need to start making changes. But it's easy to fumble and lose momentum.
When we want to achieve a goal, using the technique of "mental contrasting" - being optimistic about the benefits of a new habit while also being realistic about how difficult building the habit may be - leads us to put in more effort.
Recognize and plan for the obstacles that may get in the way. For example, if you tend to be exhausted at night, accept that it might not be the best time to focus for a few extra minutes and schedule your gratitude journalling in the morning instead.
Our relationships with others is a key element of our happiness. We can focus our gratitude on people for whom we’re thankful rather than circumstances or material items in order to enhance the benefits we experience (Robert Emmons).
We can easily include others in our expressions of gratitude. For instance, we can write a gratitude letter to someone who had an impact on us. We can also share the day’s grateful moments around the dinner table or in our video calls to loved ones. The conversations that follow may give you even more reasons to be thankful.
In our entrepreneurial and personal journeys, gratitude is, without question, a great emotion to cultivate. Hopefully, we can make it a habit that we can maintain over the long term. Don't forget that practice, patience and self-compassion are key ingredients to our purposes and intentions.
We are grateful for the beautiful tribe at Nomad Haven! Come and join us.