Gratitude is one of the keys to my personal success as I live an abundant life. The truth is, gratitude works! Being grateful means being thankful for all the benefits we have received, are receiving, and will receive in our lives.
Over the years, I have tried many different gratitude practices. I keep a gratitude journal. I visualize myself personally thanking individuals from my past and even from history. Further, I have started speaking more words of gratitude to those around me. Lately, and most effectively, I am focusing on gratitude for my future blessings as well. All of these practices have helped me realize how truly lucky and blessed I am. They were what helped pull me up from my lowest point and set me on the path towards abundance. And I know that they can work for each and every one of you.
However, I was asked quite a simple question by my teenage son recently that really made me think. I was going on about how he should practice gratefulness each and every day. He skeptically asked me why gratitude worked. What was the reason that simply thinking about and being thankful for your blessings could make such a difference. To him it seemed so simple that it just couldn’t be true. I started doing some research and here’s what I found.
8 Reasons Why Gratitude Works
Following are the reasons why gratitude works.
- The practice of gratitude leads to lower stress levels and incidences of depression. According to a study completed in 2008 by Alex M. Wood et al., two studies were completed that showed a direct correlation between lowered stress levels and emotional stability and frequent gratitude practices.
- Gratitude helps us focus on and appreciate the present (and with specific gratitude practices, the future. According to author Robert Emmons, well-known expert on gratitude, “[G]ratitude makes us appreciate the value of something, and when we appreciate the value of something, we extract more benefits from it; we’re less likely to take it for granted.
- Being grateful can lead to better sleep. A study completed by Nancy Digdon at Grant MacEwan University showed that people who kept a gratitude journal before bed were able to fall asleep quicker.
- Practicing gratitude helps individuals become more optimistic. Looking at what we have to be grateful for makes us hopeful for our future. Many studies have shown the benefits of optimism, and they include everything from increasing longevity to promoting self respect.
- Faithfully practicing gratitude produces ripple effects in the larger world. When we become grateful people, this shines through with those we meet. The truth is, people are more willing to help those who they feel are truly grateful. I often think of this as the birthday gift effect. When I’m attending birthday parties for my children’s friends, I always pay attention to how thankful the birthday child is for the gifts that are being showered on them. Those children who are thankful and show it are also those who are well liked and praised by other kids and adults alike. This might just be me, but I know that I look more kindly on those children and if given the opportunity would not hesitate to help them with something they need because I feel sure they will appreciate my efforts.
- Showing gratitude in relationships can strengthen them. No one wants to have their efforts ignored including romantic partners, family members, friends, and even strangers. However, when we do not show that we are grateful, this can lead to hurt feelings along with vows never to ‘help’ again. On the other hand, when we show that we are grateful, individuals do notice. Looking someone in the eye and truly saying how much you appreciate their efforts can make all the difference in the world. Recently, my son who is just getting over his rocky teenage years, told me how much he appreciated all I do for him. His words came from out of the blue and were some of the sweetest words I have ever heard. Talk about a balm for the soul. Consequently, hs words have softened my own responses to his thankfully uncommon outbursts and moments of angst.
- Gratitude helps individuals to not feel anxious about the future. By focusing on what we have, we realize there is nothing to fear. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” When we ask for those things we need, we should do so with thanksgiving. And Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” In other words, if we ask in gratitude and believe that we will receive what we ask for, we will receive it.
- Gratitude helps us realize how good we do have it. I know that many people have terrible things that have happened or are happening in their lives. However, even in my darkest days I have been incredibly blessed. By finding things to be grateful about even on my worst days, I am able to realize how lucky I am. Remember, there are people in this world in refugee camps. There are those who have to walk miles for clean water or who have never had the luxury of inside plumbing or toilet paper. Therefore, if nothing else just being grateful for toilet paper is a good place to start.
My Personal Observations About Gratitude
In my personal life, I find that when I spend time each day being grateful for all the good in my life. Once I started prioritizing gratitude everyday, my life changed for the better. One book that really helped change how I approach gratitude is Feel Free to Prosper by Marilyn Jennet. She describes a technique for giving thanks for the things that will happen in the future. By believing they my blessings already happened, gratitude actually helps them come to be. This might seem like it’s impossible, but it truly works. Visualizing this and removing myself to the future is a wonderful way to practice gratitude for abundance.
I am so thankful for you my dear readers. Here’s wishing you only a life of abundance.
With much love,