There is so much power in gratitude. The simple act of reminding myself all the things I do have in life, instead of focusing on the things I don’t have, has been an extremely beneficial practice in my own life. Practicing gratitude is one of the quickest most efficient ways I know to pick myself up whenever I’m feeling down.
Many studies have shown the benefits of gratitude include increased happiness and decreased anxiety and depression, as well as promotes better sleep and a host of other great effects. I love what Robert Emmons, one of the leading experts on gratitude, has to say about it:
“First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. Second, we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
“I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
If I find myself in a place where I’m feeling sorry for myself, I try to remember to practice gratitude. I simply stop my train of thought and start thinking up a list of everything I have in that very moment that I am grateful for. It usually starts with my health, my family and friends, food to eat, access to clean water, and I take it from there. It’s amazing how quickly it puts things into perspective.
One practice recommended by Dr. Emmons, is to think back to the most difficult times of your life. This sets up a contrast in your mind whereby you realize how far you’ve come, bringing to light what you can be grateful for.
There are so many tips for learning to become more grateful. A good place to start is Dr. Emmons’s list: Ten Ways to Become More Grateful.
If you frequently suffer from a feeling of lack, or even if the general outlook on life seems to be from a place of lack, I encourage you to incorporate a gratitude practice in your life, and see how over time, the world will seem a little more rosy than it once was.