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Cultivating Gratitude: World Gratitude Day

21 Sep, 2022

The wrestle for a contented life is a real place. It’s an age of quick sound bites, 24-hour news cycles and the next model or upgrade of the latest and greatest available with a swipe of a finger. It’s little wonder that anxiety, stress and discontent is so prevalent in our society—telling us we need to be more or have more, that we will never have enough or be enough. The desire to peer across the fence and think that it’s greener over there can fuel a dissatisfaction that feels relentless. So what’s the best way to counter these imposing pressures?

Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston says, “Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.”

The art of practicing gratitude doesn’t just give us a fleeting good feeling in the moment, but if practiced intentionally, has the power to change us physically and mentally. One study’s definition of gratitude is “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.”

“Count your blessings,” is not just a nice saying that your mother or grandmother may have repeated ad nauseum. There are numerous studies which attest to the fact that practicing gratitude can contribute to your personal wellbeing.  

Gratitude improves health and impacts our mental health and physical wellbeing. There’s a strong connection to quality of sleep, increase of emotional awareness, better energy and enthusiasm. It can even reduce pain symptoms, aid in stress regulation and reduce anxiety and depression. 

Another study suggests, “When we express and receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’…By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.”

At work, gratitude builds professional commitment. When we express gratitude at work and in our work and to our colleagues, our productivity increases, there’s better communication, connection and cohesiveness within teams. 

A habit of being thankful changes the way we see the world, makes us more empathetic and gracious toward others and ourselves and more optimistic about the future. As we pay greater attention to the here and now, we remind ourselves to appreciate even the most ordinary of things, and this fosters greater contentment. 

So how do we cultivate this in our lives? 

Some simple ways to begin practicing gratitude include: 

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Maintaining a habit of writing down what you are grateful for, daily or weekly. After a few weeks, look back through your journal and remind yourself of the good you’ve noticed or experienced in your life. 
  2. Writing a note or sending a small token of thanks to someone. Actively thinking of others and acting generously heightens feelings of empathy and compassion and gives us perspective.
  3. Express verbal gratitude to someone. Encouragement and kindness strengthen connection and breaks down barriers.
  4. Notice the beauty around you. Every day look for something that is beautiful and acknowledge it in some way. 

Today is World Gratitude Day and as we continue to explore wellbeing and what that looks like for each of us at Fresh Hope Communities, why not choose one of the strategies above to actively cultivate gratitude in your life.