“Enough’ is a feast” – Buddhist Proverb
The practice of gratitude is about making space each day to acknowledge the good in your life. This sounds like an easy, almost trivial task to partake in each day but you’d be surprised at just how unnatural gratitude comes to most of us. We often approach life from a position of scarcity. We didn’t get enough sleep, we’re not attractive enough, we didn’t try hard enough, we are never doing enough. We also project that into our relationships and often find people around us are also not doing enough. Shifting our mindset from scarcity to that of gratitude where we instead look at all we have, opens us up to a host of benefits, but most importantly opens us up to the possibility of a more joyful life.
This all sounds lovely but what does the science say? There have been studies that have shown that practicing gratitude has an incredible impact on both mental and physical health. It can improve anxiety, depression and mood disorders, as well as interpersonal relationships, parenting, career growth, body image, cardiovascular diseases and so, so much more. However, in a much broader sense, practicing gratitude will help you become a more joyful individual, which could be where all of the scientific benefits stem from. So how can we use gratitude to increase our capacity for joy?
Understanding The Difference Between Happiness and Joy
Before we unpack the ways we can practice gratitude to increase joy, let’s look at the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an important emotion but it is very different from joy. It is a result of external circumstances, often beyond our control. Joy, on the other hand, is cultivated internally and can exist independently from happiness. Joy is much deeper than happiness and can determine how we move through the world, forage connections and love ourselves and others. And one of the very best ways to cultivate joy is through gratitude.
Adopt More Than Just an Attitude for Gratitude
Dr. Brene Brown puts this very eloquently in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. While an attitude of gratitude is fantastic, and you may align yourself with values that gratitude speaks to, it doesn’t necessarily translate to action or behaviour. You actually have to do it. The same way you improve at anything, to truly become proficient in gratitude, to become a master of it, you have to practice. You can not hone and keep a skill without practicing it consistently. You need to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine, the same way you brush your teeth and put socks on each morning. Only then will you start reaping its rewards.
Start Practicing Today
Starting a gratitude practice doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as taking pause each day and saying out loud the things you are grateful for. You could also start a gratitude journal and make it a habit to wake up each morning and write a list of 5 things you are grateful for. Once you’ve established this habit you can add 5 more before going to sleep each night. You can explore guided meditations with a focus on gratitude, or use something you are grateful for as a focus point in meditation. Some people like to make gratitude art or write letters to say thank you for all of their fortunes. Do whatever resonates with you and start small if that’s easier. The more you practice the more you will start uncovering just how much you have to be grateful for!
Gratitude is one of the 5 daily rituals Dr. Jodi Larry teaches in her Rituwell 10 Day Foundational Reset. She believes that in order to live the healthy and happy life you deserve, there are 5 pillars in which you should create daily rituals around. To learn more about gratitude and the relationship it has to living a full and healthy life, sign up for her 10 Day Reset today or join her for the Fall Harvest Rituwell Retreat on October 1. “Take the first step to change your life – the natural way!”
By Kristin Nixon