In the absence of gratitude, our physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being suffers. You’re probably familiar with the most curmudgeonly ingrate in literature, Mr. Scrooge. His spectacularly ungrateful perspective on his life and the people in it wreaked havoc on that famous Christmas Eve. With each visit by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, his heart warmed as his appreciation slowly awakened. His final transformation was miraculous and it was all due to his newly grateful outlook.

It’s natural to notice and be affected by the people, events, and conditions in life that aren’t going the way you’d hoped. Feelings of disappointment, anger, and even resentment aren’t uncommon and in some circumstances even make sense. The truth is that problems are seen as bigger than what’s going well in your life because your brain is wired to have a negativity bias. It’s part of an evolutionary strategy designed long ago to help the homo sapiens species survive.

However, like Scrooge, your negativity bias can tilt out of balance. When this happens feelings of gratitude can seem as scarce and mythical as unicorns. You’ve heard of them, but you’re just not sure you believe they’re real or would do you any good if they were.

Unicorns & Rainbows

The good news is, you can choose to intentionally rebalance how you view your world. Expanding your gratitude is a very powerful action that you can take to increase your wellbeing and happiness. Spending time in gratitude helps you to develop greater resilience in the face of difficulties and enables you to enjoy your life’s treasures more deeply.

Having a gratitude practice is much more than putting on a happy face and saying ‘thank you.’ Unlike a ‘unicorns and rainbows’ approach to life, there’s a way to feel grateful and still be keeping it real. In fact, research has demonstrated that people who choose to focus on the positive in life don’t just ignore what’s difficult, but they’re better able to effectively respond to adversity. Rather than making you blind to the truth, expanding your experience of gratitude opens your eyes to what’s really there.

The 4 Best Reasons to Expand Your Gratitude

#1. Improve Your Physical Health: The experience of these feelings has been shown to increase immune function, decrease inflammation in the body, and improve heart health. Gratitude has also been shown to improve sleep leading to greater well-being.

#2. Balance Your Mental Outlook: Spending time with your sense of gratitude improves your perspective on your life. Gratitude practice is like putting on corrective lenses. As your mind expands its awareness of what and who you’re grateful for, you’re actually seeing your life more accurately.

#3. Nourish Positive Emotions: When you intentionally focus on what you’re grateful for, you realize that there’s actually plenty to appreciate; your emotional experience of your life improves, and studies show that this behavior increases resilience in the face of adversity.

#4. Experience Greater Social Satisfaction: As your perspective shifts and you experience the rewards of choosing to be present to your gratitude, your relationships will shift. It may be that existing relationships will become richer. On the other hand, you may find yourself making changes that bring your social connections into greater alignment with your gratitude.

Don’t Be A Scrooge

Choosing to invest time and attention to developing a gratitude practice can be simple. Everything you need to create one you already have. Fortunately, the benefits of consciously choosing to experience gratitude are profound and immediate.

One way to begin is to…

  1. Write down a list of 5 people, experiences, or things you feel grateful for.
  2. Every day, after a two-minute quiet mind activity, let your mind envision each of these 5.
  3. Give yourself enough time to really feel your gratitude for each of them.
  4. Notice the accompanying physical sensations.
  5. One way to increase the benefit of this practice is to make notes in a journal each day.

For a richer effect, schedule this practice every day for 14 days. Notice how it’s affecting your perspective and your responses to your life by reviewing your journal notes once a week. After the first two weeks are complete, see if there are any changes you’d like to make to your list. Consider making a commitment to holding this grateful spaciousness for 30 days.

As you expand your gratitude, be aware that unpleasant feelings and experiences will still show up in your life. This practice isn’t intended to erase all negativity from your world. It won’t be all unicorns and rainbows and it’s completely normal to have times when you aren’t experiencing gratitude. At those moments, remind yourself that you will, once again, have the space to sink into the rich waters of gratitude during your practice.

One way to supercharge your process is to work with a qualified coach who employs proven strategies for success. Having an unconditionally supportive coach who believes in you, empowers you, and celebrates you makes all the difference.

About Zette

Zette Harbour is an iPEC certified life and leadership coach, and, an award-winning professional storyteller, who helps women who want to live as their heart desires but experience feeling stuck learn how to become unstoppable in order to live true to themselves.

To connect with Zette, book a complimentary Discovery Conversation today.

Listen to her free 2 Minute Body Sense Meditation as an excellent practice and support in accessing your intuition.

Read more of her column, Successful Awakenings, which explores the limitless power of awakening to the brilliant and beautiful story of who you truly are.

Follow Zette at Morphosis Coaching on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Diana Simumpande, Unsplash.com