Gratitude encourages our mind to focus on the positive and helps us to understand the importance of people and events in our lives. Just as important as it is to feel respected and connected socially, gratitude delivers an integral human need for us to give thanks and be thanked. From an evolutionary perspective, gratitude was helpful in binding communities together. Today, we tend to be disconnected from other and as a result, suffering the consequences of loneliness, anger or even a weakened immune system.
Similar to any skill or habit, in order to foster and build gratitude, it needs to be trained and put into practice. Gratitude journaling works best when paired with another mindfulness activity or when you are in a calm and quiet head space. Below are steps on how to effectively incorporate gratitude journaling:
- Take a deep breath and reflect on people or aspects of your life you are grateful for. Topics can simple or complex, trivial or profound, recent or something that happened long ago.
- Thinking of why that person or aspect of life is so important to you - Record your thoughts privately by hand (or electronically), writing down freely anything thoughts that come to mind.
- Focus on the depth and quality of a single thought rather than trying to write down as many individual points as possible.
- If you feel compelled after the journaling exercise, perform an act of kindness in response to your gratitude. This can come in the form of returning a favor, paying it forward or by simply thanking an individual or a higher power for the gift you have received.
- Always give without expecting anything in return.
- Practice consistently and take note of the impact gratitude can have on your life over time.
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