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The power of practicing gratitude

Updated: Jun 7

Gratitude is more than an emotion; it's a state of being that shifts our focus from what we lack to what we possess. In a world where 'the grind' can overshadow simple joys and discontent can become the norm, appreciating the little things can bring welcome relief.


Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. It's about noticing the good things surrounding you - no matter how small - and fully savouring them. When cultivated regularly, this simple practice has the power to transform your entire outlook so that find contentment in the micro-moments of life. 

It is not happiness that brings us gratitude; it is gratitude that brings us happiness.

The (neural) pathway to peace

When you practice gratitude regularly, something remarkable happens – you begin to rewire your brain, training itm to seek positivity in the world around you. Over time, your default mindset shifts to one of appreciation and abundance.  


As your neural pathways change, your brain will magnify whatever you choose to focus on. This phenomenon is known as the Universal Law of Gratitude*. Part of the 12 Universal Laws, the Universal Law of Gratitude asserts that the more we express gratitude, the more reasons we find to be grateful.  



The benefits of gratitude Practising gratitude isn't about seeing everything as good but rather about accepting what you have as enough. It turns denial into acceptance, despair into appreciation, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. 


What you feed your mind affects how you feel.

When worry, fear, envy or self-criticism flood the mind, your mental health and wellbeing suffers. When you express gratitude, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the 'happy hormones' that make you feel lighter on the inside. In the same way that a healthy diet fuels your body with nutrients - practicing gratitude provides so many benefits...


  • Deeper connections: Showing appreciation and gratitude towards others strengthens interpersonal relationships – fostering empathy, compassion, and connection.

  • Improved self-esteem: Recognising your strengths and successes boosts self-esteem and self-worth, shifting the focus from what is lacking to what you have to be proud of in the present moment. 


  • Cultivating optimism: Gratitude encourages us to see your failures as lessons, strengthening your ability to try again rather than give up. 


  • Greater resilience: Gratitude helps you build resilience by fostering a positive outlook, reminding you to find silver linings and maintain perspective during testing times. 


  • More joy: Pursuing success, fear of failure and the weight of uncertainty can eclipse the simple joys surrounding you. At its core, gratitude teaches you to look for the joy and lightness each day. When you focus on what you are grateful for, you actively choose positive emotions over negative ones. 


  • Less stress: Focusing on the positive aspects of life rather than dwelling on stressors and problems has been shown to reduce stress levels. 


 

Your gratitude day plan

To deepen your gratitude practice, consider trying this daily routine: 


Morning: Begin each day with a gratitude meditation. Take a few moments to centre yourself (perhaps while drinking your morning coffee), then reflect on three things you're thankful for. 

Whether it's the promise of a new day, the comfort of a hot shower, or having a tasty breakfast, let gratitude set the tone for your day ahead – it's all about romanticising life. 


 

During the day: Whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed, pause and recite affirmations such as "I am grateful for the challenges that helped me grow" or "I appreciate the support of loved ones in my life." These affirmations serve as gentle reminders of the abundance that surrounds you.   

Night-time: Wind down your day with gratitude prompts. Before you sleep, ask yourself three things you're grateful for from the day.


These prompts could be, "What went well today?", "What did I do today to make myself proud?" "What lessons did today teach me?". By ending your day on a note of gratitude, you'll begin to realise you already have everything you need within you. 


Download the day plan here:

Gratitude day plan
.pdf
Download PDF • 526KB

Remember, the key to practising gratitude is consistency and sincerity. Find methods that resonate with you and make them part of each day to reap the rewards that gratitude can bring fully.


Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury explored the neurological impacts of gratitude in her 2019 research paper, “The Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain”, explaining that physiological effects of gratitude start at the neurotransmitter level. Chowdhury’s research consolidated neurological studies that demonstrate how regular gratitude practice can lead to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Specifically, expressing gratitude activates brain regions associated with the experience of reward, empathy, and social bonding. 


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