Does gratitude improve a person’s happiness? Psychology studies show it does and that makes sense. When a person feels grateful, there’s no room for negative thoughts or feelings. So why wouldn’t we just be constantly grateful so we could be happy all the time? The reason is probably because it’s hard to just “be” grateful…to force ourselves into a grateful mindset. And it’s especially hard for some of us to be more thankful at a time when a lot of us are separated from family due to COVID-19 or have maybe even been sick or lost a loved one in this unprecedented time.
Like anything in life, we usually have to take action, to practice something for it to become ingrained, inherent or innate – and when it seems hard to be grateful, that is usually the time we have to step up those actions. So how can we practice gratitude? There are several ways I’ve learned from others to do this (none of which are original on my part, I’m just passing on what I know.)
1) Keep a gratitude journal
It’s one thing to think of what we’re grateful for. But thoughts are fleeting (and we can get easily distracted) It’s a proven scientific fact that when we write something down our brain remembers it better (like taking notes in class vs. not)…we reinforce our thoughts through our writing. They say doing something for 21 days in a row usually makes it a habit. Write one or two things every day you’re thankful for in a journal. It’s an automatic mood lifter.
2) Express your gratitude toward others
How do you feel when you get a thank you card in the mail? Sending letters and cards seems to be a lost art as people take the easier road of emailing or texting these days. It takes time to write a letter or pick out a nice card and to actually mail it. But it is usually worth it – both for the recipient and for the sender.
3) Praise and thank the Lord.
We can do this best, of course, just like the above, when we take action such as going to church to worship. But if you’re in a pandemic situation in which you can’t go in person, try virtually attending church. Sing your praises out loud, it will lift your heart and soul. Which leaves no room for unhappiness.
Lord, please help me to remember to practice gratitude in my everyday life…thank You for all of Your many gifts each day.