As you express gratitude you inadvertently bolster feelings of self worth and confidence is developed supporting a healthy personal identity. Gratitude also is a strong positive emotion, and as all positive emotions do, assists us to manage stress, conflict and trauma more effectively. This is called the undoing effect.
Gratitude exemplifies virtuous behavior and often leads others to experiencing elevation. A term coined by Jonathon Haidt to describe when individuals feel inspired by witnessing others positive behaviors and compelled to act accordingly. People who express gratitude regularly are also more likely to participate in prosocial behavior, that is, behaviors that are kind and helpful.
When you are filled with gratitude for all that is good in your life and appreciate everything that you have, you gain a unique perspective on the world. Not everything is perfect, but you have the choice to focus in on the good, and this perspective taking enables positive decision making and greater ability to discern the important from the unimportant.
So how does practicing gratitude create happiness in our family? Firstly we try to bring gratitude to each meal by asking each other what we are grateful for today. Interestingly some of our best conversations come from this topic where they elude to something that made them a little happy throughout the day. It doesn’t need to be amazing, just an insight into something they’re pleased about or went well.
Secondly, I personally practice gratitude most days when I’m gong to sleep and again when I wake up. This not only puts my mind in a positive emotional state, it has the duel benefit as acting like a meditation where I focus my mind in on only gratitude and as it wanders, bring my attention back to what I feel grateful for. Yes, it’s a lot of gratitude, but knowing that my mind naturally pays three times more attention to a negative thought or emotion than a positive, it makes sense to stack the equation with gratitude.
I try to remember that most people in the world do not have the comforts of my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have my health, my family and my work and the more I appreciate these blessings, the more they grow. Gratitude is the fastest and easiest way to shift our perspective and gratitude creates happiness. So, look around the room your in and notice, what do you have to be grateful for right now?