the magical art of gratitude

you guys! i have some exciting news that i just realized i haven’t shared here yet. i just finished an extended learning course called the science of happiness! it’s a 10-week course put on by the greater good science center ac uc berkeley – an organization i’ve been keeping a close eye on for over 5 years now {it was probably one of the first email subscription lists i ever signed up for}.

the class explores research-backed insights on happiness and other facets of living a meaningful life. it includes practical lessons from positive psychology and how to apply these concepts to your own life. each week a new strategy for tapping into and nurturing your own happiness is introduced, which goes along with the week’s material.

right up my alley!

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i’m certain i’ll be sharing many things with you in this space. it turns out, i was already ahead of the game with several of the proven practices of happiness including… you guessed it… gratitude! if we have any original readers out there, it was the original theme of the blog back in 2009. each day i would write down 5 things a day i was grateful for.

studies show that being actively grateful makes you feel better about your life and more optimistic about the future. one study went as far to say that people who kept a gratitude journal vs. those who didn’t were 25% happier, reported fewer health complaints, and exercised longer. furthermore, it’s been shown that grateful people reported feeling more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined, and strong than non-grateful people.

i’m just going to keep going, okay?

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gratitude helps us savor our positive experiences, it leads us to be more helpful, it prevents us from taking things for granted, and it neutralizes negative emotions.

it’s like a miracle drug, am i right? it certainly was my gateway drug to embracing true, authentic happiness.

let’s quickly talk about something called the positivity bias, which is often times what grateful people experience. when something good happens, they feel a little bit happier about it throughout a given day. makes sense, right? it’s like being grateful makes you more tuned into all the good you have in your life. constant gratitude equals constant happiness.

so now that we are clear on how beneficial gratitude is {these are scientific studies, people!} let’s talk about how to integrate it into your life.

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my first rule is that a little goes a long way. studies show that even once a week is enough!

get out your journal. in fact, treat yourself to a gratitude-only journal where you let the pages be filled with all of the things in your life that you are so happy you have or so happy that happened.

take just a few minutes – even 5 is plenty. list numbers 1 to 5 on you paper. it’s that simple… ready, go! your blank canvas is ready for you.

choose a time that works for you. this is key. if you know that evenings don’t work for you, perhaps it’s on your bus ride home. or maybe it’s something you put in your outlook calendar at 3pm every day. you have ownership on when you want to schedule it in. so honor that, and pick the best time!

think grateful thoughts. when you find yourself in moments of anger or frustration, consciously pause and take a step back. i have a roof over my head. i made a mistake, but at least i have a job and i will use this as a chance to improve.

let it heal thy soul. gratitude can be incredibly important in body image work as well. women may have a hard time accepting their bodies as they are. practicing gratitude can get you back in alignment with how lucky you are to have a body, and be in the body that is yours. if you’re feeling like you can’t bare to look in the mirror due to cellulite or feelings of insecurity, you can be instead be grateful to have two legs that can get you from point a to point b. two arms that can lift things. two eyes that can see things. two ears that can hear things. cultivate self-love through a deep appreciation for every body part you have!

i believe that gratitude helps us to wake up to all of the magic happening in our lives!

may you discover the magic.

 

*sources: 1 | 2

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