If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate in yourself. By practicing gratitude, we’re directing our attention and awareness on what we want. As Deepak teaches at SynchroDestiny, this conscious focus of awareness is a key step in manifesting our deepest desires and intentions.
Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook:
* Felt better about their lives as a whole
* Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
* Felt optimistic about the future
* Got sick less often
* Exercised more regularly
* Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
* Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
* Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
* Felt stronger during trying times
* Enjoyed closer family ties
* Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
* Experienced fewer symptoms of stress
Tips for Cultivating Gratitude
That gratitude is a decision doesn’t imply that choosing it is always easy or effortless; most of us have a tendency to take things for granted. At a deeper level, we may resist gratitude because it runs counter to an ingrained need to believe that we are self-sufficient and that our good fortune is our own doing.
Yet we are interdependent, and grace is an unmistakable force in our lives. When you begin to focus on gratitude, any fears will melt away as you appreciate the countless ways in which the universe supports you in every moment. Here are a few practices for you to “jump-start” your gratitude habit.
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Each day list at least 5 things for which you are grateful. Challenge yourself by not repeating items from the previous days, for this will make you look more deeply at all the “little” things that enhance your life and give you joy . . . waking in a warm bed; your favorite song; a phone call from a friend; the ability to touch, see, or hear; electricity; the beating of your heart; a hug.
You can write in your journal just before bed, when you wake up in the morning or just before you meditate. The time of day isn’t important; what is important is that you consistently take a few moments to consciously focus your mind on your blessings. Commit to keeping a journal for a month. What we put our attention on expands in our life. By offering gratitude for all the goodness we experience, we’re inviting the universe to give us more and more of what we want.
2. Write a Thank You Letter
Make a list of at least 5 people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.
In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing. Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.
While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation. A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love that will continue to ripple out into the universe.
3. Take a Gratitude Walk
This is a particularly useful practice when you’re feeling down or filled with stress and worry. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. Pay attention to your senses – everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting – and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.