What is Gratitude, and How do you Cultivate it?

Gratitude is giving appreciation for someone or something you have in your life. It's widely understood as a spontaneous emotion, but in recent years it's been researched and turned to as an active practice with numerous benefits from strengthening relationships to improving sleep. 

Practicing gratitude means consciously taking some time to acknowledge and focus on what is good in your life, even the relatively smaller things we sometimes take for granted. There is more to gratitude than the happy feeling we often get when we receive something - gratitude is cultivated when we express happiness for something we receive or already have. That said, gratitude is a helpful emotion and personality trait, particularly in today's materialistic society.  

Studies show that those who regularly acknowledge things they are grateful for are happier and experience decreased levels of anxiety and depression. There are countless ways you can practice gratitude, and the more you do, gratitude can eventually become a habit and frequent mood that you experience more effortlessly.

One great way to begin practicing gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal, where you jot down three things you are grateful for when you wake up and three more things before you go to sleep. It helps to be as specific as possible because it will connect you more with each item on your list. So rather than saying something like food, you might say that you are grateful for the awakening aroma of coffee in the morning or how breakfast fuels you so you can get through the morning or do things you enjoy.

Diane K. Schmidt Counseling Services | 8575 W. 110th Street, Suite 304 Overland Park, KS 66210 | Phone: 913.730.6778 | Email: diane@dkschmidtcounseling.com