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The Power of the Word: ‘Thank you' How to Practice Gratitude.

Updated: Apr 5



Pause for a moment; picture a time in your life when you felt truly grateful for something or

someone. How did you feel? Happier? Was there a little extra bounce in your step? Did you feel a greater sense of optimism for your future?


The truth is that these feelings are at our disposal 24/7, 365 days a year. We can all find joy in every day with a simple, 5-minute daily practice.


What is gratitude?


Gratitude is a conscious, positive emotion that we feel when we are thankful for something physical or spiritual; but we don’t always express it.


We say the words, ‘thank you’ on a daily basis – perhaps waving thank you to a stranger for letting you out at a busy road junction, or maybe a colleague made you a cup of tea. It’s second nature, and of course, polite, but whilst we might be grateful for their help and kindness, we rarely take a split-second to actually feel ‘thankful’.


It takes a conscious effort to truly enjoy the experience of gratitude; yet once you begin to do so, it can feel almost ground-breaking. With repetition, gratitude practice will unlock a substantial number of both mental and physical health benefits.


By incorporating gratitude into your daily life, you force yourself to stop and acknowledge the

things/moments/people that you feel grateful for. Moreover, conversely, it is also about the

kindness, goodness, and thoughtfulness that we put out in the world, ourselves. You may be grateful that your upbringing made you a respectful, loyal person, for example.


Psychology professor and gratitude researcher at the University of California, (Davis), Robert

Emmons believes that there are two main components when it comes to the art of practising

gratitude - verifying the good things that have come our way and recognising the positive role that people play in our lives.





Why does gratitude Practice matter?


When our gratitude rituals become deep-rooted habits, they can result in substantial short and long-term benefits – the far-reaching effects generating positivity in other aspects of life.

This is supported by the neuroscience that shows that gratitude can actually change our brains.


Positive neuro pathways are formed, building over time, and this strengthens your ability to notice the good. Research has found that those who are more grateful, have greater activity in their pre-fontal cortex; the part of the brain associated with learning and decision-making. Confirming the long-term impact, this brain activity continues for months.


Boost your mood.


As human beings, we are predisposed toward negative bias, the brain’s way of keeping us safe.


Building over time, this simple practice can overcome negative emotions, by focusing on positives, we elevate our overall well-being. Gratitude promotes optimism over pessimism and reduces feelings of loneliness or isolation.


Research has reported a significant impact on those suffering from anxiety and depression. One study published by the National Library of Medicine reported that a single appreciative thought leads to an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms.


Improving your relationships.


Expressing gratitude for others strengthens relationships by letting someone know that you

appreciate them. It also encourages you to be more helpful or generous and encourages

reciprocation, attracting more good and creating a positive cycle.


Physical health benefits.


Feelings of stress are intrinsically linked to pain levels. When we feel pleasure, our neural networks light up. These also control basic emotional regulation, such as feeling grateful or experiencing stress. By cultivating feelings of gratitude, the body falls into a more relaxed state.


By lowering stress hormones, other stress-inducing challenges wash over us more easily; enhancing resilience, you’ll bounce back faster than before. This calmness also improves sleep patterns, which in turn boosts energy, and cognitive ability, and even improves immunity.


How to cultivate a gratitude attitude.


The great news is that practising gratitude isn’t difficult. It just takes mindful repetition to form a healthy habit. If you would like to become more appreciative, first things first; stop.

Take the time to notice. You might notice the 'thank you’s' that you say out loud; are these just polite habits, or are you truly grateful for the shop assistant's help?


Start by noticing one interaction a day when you’ve said thank you; question and detail what you are grateful for.


Observation is about tuning into the small, everyday details of your life that because they are

common, they’re easy to take for granted. State three things each day that you are grateful for. This may turn into five…or as many as you can think of.


It's incredible how much you notice once you begin… the sun shining through the window, someone compliments you, the lights all being green if you are running late... Equally, your list might always include things that you never take for granted, your family, your

children, or a much-loved pet. I express gratitude for my Cavapoo, Dante, every day.


Repetition isn’t a bad thing.



How to practice gratitude.


There are many ways to practice, but if you are a beginner, here are 5 simple methods to help start your gratitude journey and discover how gratitude can transform your life.


Journaling.

Set aside 5 minutes each day; write down 3-5 things you are grateful for – and importantly, reflect on how you feel and savour that emotion. The end of the day is a great time to do this as it helps you to go to sleep feeling contented; simply pop a notebook by your bed. The language you use doesn’t matter; so long as it’s positive.


If journaling isn’t for you, you can still take 5 mins to reflect. This may be on the car journey from the school run to work. Also, throughout your day, you might take a moment to pause momentarily and acknowledge something that has just happened. You might also be grateful for negative situations that you avoided.


Saying thank you.

Verbally or in writing, by showing your appreciation to someone who did something nice, you tell people what they mean to you and that you care. "It was really kind of you to…"; and "Thank you for listening when..."; or a simple, “Thank you for being there and for being you.”


It doesn’t need to be over-the-top, perhaps it is just telling a loved one that you really enjoyed the dinner they just made. All too often, we don’t show appreciation – and sadly, there comes a time when we wish we had done so more.


Pay it Forward.

Similarly, gratitude for another’s actions may inspire you to act thoughtfully in return. This could simply be a random act of kindness to a stranger. If your colleague is having a bad day, they don’t even need to know that the chocolate bar you left on their desk was from you. Notice how these acts make you feel, personally.


Positivity Jar.

Each time something good happens, write it down on a slip of paper, fold it and pop it in a

transparent jar. Seeing the paper pile up has a positive effect in itself; a reminder that good things happen. Shake them out and read them at the end of each month. When you experience a tough day, remember all those positives you’ve experienced; this serves as a reminder that life is good.


Touch, see, smell, taste and hear.

Our senses allow us to immerse ourselves in mindful appreciation of a coffee, a delicious meal, the smell of the forest or the ground after a rainstorm. It reminds us what it is like to feel alive, yet as we are so busy, we rarely stop to appreciate these things and tune in to the present.



If you are juggling family commitments, work and other responsibilities, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself. But a routine of just five minutes a day to establish this positivity practice will improve your relationships, and you’ll enjoy many incredible physical and mental health benefits. My favourite time is first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee; it helps me start my day with positivity, light and a smile.


Ensure you savour the feelings of gratitude; you pause and enjoy that feeling of genuine

appreciation; letting the moment sink in. Soak it up and say to yourself, or even out loud, “how great does this feel?” Whether verbally or in writing, expressing your gratitude cements the practice.


It is not about perfection; it’s about creating a positive cycle. Start small, begin a routine and enjoy the wonderful ripple effects in the rest of your life. Explore this simple practice to appreciate the little things.


As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little."


 

Martine Cullum is a contemporary urban fantasy, cozy crime, and romance writer. Bringing friends and fiction together, her cozy series presents the story of friendship in a spiritual world, reflecting Martine’s own spiritual energy and her unwavering power of positive thinking.


Through her fiction writing, Martine endeavours to, quite simply, make the world a better place. Find out more about the Moons & Runes series and The POISE Archives ~ Visit Martine Cullum’s Amazon store, today. >>

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