Practicing gratitude (Part 1): Is practicing gratitude an undervalued life habit?

The Life Habit Gratitude Series Part 1

Do you make practicing gratitude a regular habit?

Take this gratitude quiz to learn how grateful you are.

At its core, gratitude is about expressing thankfulness and appreciation.

On some level we all get that, we give out the occasional customary say thank you but I wonder how much of that is courtesy and good manners versus genuine considered, unhurried thankfulness.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to get swept up in the grab-and-run mentality we’ve created for ourselves; we go through the motions of basic gratitude without stopping to ‘smell the roses’ and appreciate what’s happening during our day-to-day transactions.

I consider myself a thanking kind of person. I say thanks to the barista who brews my coffee each morning, thanks to the waiters that bring me lunch and I throw in a dozen more thanks to any number of people over the course of a day for good measure but if I’m honest, I’m a little unpredictable depending on how busy I think I am.

What is the point of all our modern day technologically driven social connections and conveniences if we can’t pause to acknowledge, appreciate and be thankful for the small gestures of thoughtfulness and kindnesses bestowed upon us. To connect with it, where it came from and who it came from. To look someone in the eye. To see the person before us.

It turns out there’s a lot more to gratitude than a frivolous thank you here and there. The research proven benefits of gratitude suggests...

... practicing gratitude is physically, psychologically and socially good for us. It can lower blood pressure, strengthen our immune system and help us feel more alert, alive and connected with others.

Robert Emmons, a world leading scientific expert on gratitude, refers to gratitude as a relationship-strengthening emotion because

... it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.

He describes gratitude as having two components; the first is an “affirmation of goodness” and the second is “figuring out where that goodness comes from.”

He goes on to say:

“This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.”

It turns out practicing gratitude is a lifelong habit worth pursuing. And if you’re like me some days you’ll get it right and other days you might just be a little too self-involved to pay attention to the rest of the world. But keep trying, I will too.

What one small action can you take today to improve your gratitude skills?

I hope you enjoyed part one of this three-part series on Practicing Gratitude. In the next edition we'll explore different perspectives in gratitude. 

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