Scientists have proven that those who regularly practice gratitude, who actually take the time to note and reflect upon the things they are thankful for, live happier, more fulfilling lives:
- They have higher levels of positive emotions;
- They are filled with more joy and optimism;
- They have higher self-esteem;
- They show an increase in energy and productivity levels;
- They sleep better at night;
- They are more compassionate and are kinder;
- They become less materialistic and more spiritual;
- They have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure; and
- They feel less lonely and isolated.
When I was going through a rather bad patch last year, my sister challenged me to keep a gratitude jar. The idea was to find three things I’m grateful for everyday for thirty days.
It sounded so simple and yet I failed miserably the first two times I tried: I struggled trying to find something to be grateful for and eventually I just gave up. Before long I realised that the only way I can find things to be grateful for is if I make a conscious decision to be more grateful.
At first I spent my day searching for things to add to my gratitude jar – waking up to Mum and Dad laughing their heads off at some random anecdote; doubling my word count target for the day; my favourite character in a TV show surviving the hideous death that I was dreading would happen - but then, in the end, I no longer needed to search for things to be grateful for because I saw them all around me.
Unfortunately, I fell out of the habit of keeping a gratitude this year but seeing the jar from last year filled to the brim is a constant reminder that there is so much happiness in my life, even though I can’t always see past the negativity that blocks my path. So I’m making another conscious decision to start a new gratitude jar for January 2017 and, when I’ve succeeded with that, I’ll do a second for February 2017 and a third for March 2017 until I no longer have to make a conscious decision, until it becomes as easy as breathing.
To build me up to it, I’ll be taking a Thirty Days of Gratitude challenge in December via Twitter and Facebook. I’m attaching the countdown to the end of this post so please do join in with me!
But first, my top tips for cultivating gratitude:
- Don’t make any of those ‘I don’t have…’ excuses – you don’t need expensive jars or books or computer software to be grateful! Get the jam jar you just finished, use the back of envelopes or Starbucks napkins if you have to, and start scribbling down your gratitude!
- Take notice of the little things – nothing is too small to be grateful for, not even the fact that you got out of bed this morning even though you wanted to stay in bed all day!
- Try to find the silver linings in what you deem negative – did another agent send you a rejection letter? That’s great! You’re one step closer to the agent that’s going to sign you.
- Be specific – don’t just say you’re grateful for your family, say why you’re grateful for them. Did your brother do the washing up and let you put your feet up today? Did your sister let you borrow that pair of shoes you wanted? Did your Dad pick you up from the station so you didn’t have to get a bus at midnight?
- Voice the fact that you’re being grateful – share your day’s gratitude with someone you love, put it up on social media, say grace before dinner.
So what am I grateful for this month?
- I am grateful for the wonderful writers that send me messages of encouragement throughout November, which inevitably helped me complete NaNoWriMo!
- I am grateful for all the mornings that began with me forcing myself to get out of bed even though I wanted to hibernate when things started getting difficult.
- I am grateful for the amazing films and television shows that are released every single year, which inspire me when writers block strikes.
What are you grateful for?
Join me for thirty days of gratitude starting THIS THURSDAY!