This seems to be the word being bandied around a lot lately.  But what is gratitude and why is it so important? defines gratitude as a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.  So why is this feeling of thankfulness and appreciation so important?

Positive psychology researchers have been studying gratitude and they have found that if we deliberately cultivate gratitude, we can increase our happiness and well-being.  It has been discovered that gratitude makes us nicer people.  We become more social, trusting and appreciative.  It helps us deepen our relationships and improve our friendships.  Gratitude increases our quality of sleep.  It helps us cope with and recover from stress, anxiety and depression.  Gratitude generally makes us feel better.  Appreciating the good things in our lives is an important part of building resilience and happiness.

If gratitude is so good for us, why aren’t we doing it all the time?

Because, sometimes we just don’t feel like being grateful.  We might be facing challenges in our life and as a result we struggle to find anything good to be grateful for.

Gratitude becomes even more important when we are feeling discouraged and life isn’t going our way.  Even though it may be difficult to think of something to be thankful for, if you look hard enough, you can find something.  It may be as simple as, “I’m grateful because the sun is shining.”

By giving thanks for the good, we focus our attention on what is working in our life, instead of our problems.  This change in our perception has been proven to change our brain chemistry and counteract negative thinking.

ThankfulA simple exercise to implement more gratitude in your life is to start a 5 minute a day gratitude journal.  This can be done in a number of ways.  You might like to write about, draw, paint, collage or photograph things that you are grateful for each day.  Try to be specific with your thoughts.  Instead of writing, “I am grateful for my family,” include the details about why.  You might write, “I am grateful that my husband cooked me a delicious dinner tonight.”

The more time we spend on gratitude, the more we find to be thankful for and the happier life becomes.  With all of the health benefits of gratitude, why wouldn’t you spend 5 minutes a day counting your blessings.

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