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Cultivate Joy through Gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes your way, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Way #6: Cultivate appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness.

If you are capable of reading this article from your computer, then consider yourself fortunate. Only around 4-5% of the world’s populations owns a computer. We have a lot to be thankful for: a bed to sleep in each night, a stomach that doesn’t constantly rumble in hunger, clean drinking water, proper medical care, and an abundance of other simple luxuries that we often consider necessities in our lives. It’s important to be thankful for the things that are not material or tangible, as well. Do you have people in your life that you love and care about, and who love and care about you? Are you physically able to engage in the activities that you enjoy doing? Do you feel safe in your environment? Do you find yourself smiling at least once a day? The list could go on and on, but the point it, we truly have a lot to be grateful for.

Oftentimes though, we get caught up in our day to day lives and forget to stop and smell the roses. We forget to take the time to watch the sunrise or set, to admire something beautiful in nature like the springtime blooms, or even to hug someone who is always there for you. It is easy to take things for granted when you don’t take the time to appreciate what you have. When you really stop though and think about your life, you might be surprised by how much you really have to be thankful for. This realization is what will help bring consistent joy into your life. When you practice gratitude, your biochemistry will shift to one of joy.

One simple practice that you can incorporate into your daily life in an effort to help cultivate appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness is by taking the time to write five things for which you are grateful for each day. This practice should take no more than a few minutes, but will produce long lasting and joyous results. Hana Matt talks about a study of this practice and how it resulted in the following outcomes amongst the participants. It should be noted that hundreds of studies have been completed over the past twenty years regarding this specific proven way to joy.

Those who made it a daily habit to write down five things in which they are grateful for, experience the following results.

  1. They experienced far fewer symptoms of physical illness and complaints of discomfort. They also suffered less stress and depression.
  2. They rated far more favorably, their life as a whole, reported better well-being appraisals, and more optimism concerning the upcoming week. Those who took the time to do this each day claimed to be more satisfied with their lives.
  3. They took better care of themselves with a good diet and a lot more exercise than the other group who did not partake in this daily writing practice.
  4. Their sleep quality was better and deeper. They slept more hours each night and awoke more refreshed each morning.
  5. They had higher ratings of happiness.
  6. They were more likely to help someone with a problem or give emotional support to others.
  7. They felt more connected with others, and less isolated.
  8. They had more positive emotions. They experienced more energy, attentiveness, determination, enthusiasm, strength, excitement, alertness, and calmness. They were also more forgiving, hopeful, active, and interested.
  9. They had reductions in negatives feelings. They had less irritability, distress, shame, guilt, and fear. They felt less tired, upset, and nervous.
  10. They were more likely, compared to the nonparticipating group, to have made progress toward important personal goals.

Parker Wellness encourages you to take a few moments out of you day and try this practice. In combination with the previous five proven ways to joy (movement, positive thoughts, avoidance of social comparison, and practicing compassion), you are on your way to cultivating consistent joy in your life. So, what you are thankful for today?

Thank you for sharing a smile with us!

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