Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude

The all-too-familiar sound of your alarm welcomes you into another day with its early morning wake-up call. Let’s not forget about fatigue. She loves to sneak in her two cents along with the alarm. You hit the alarm but resist the urge to do so aggressively because the latest iPhone was not cheap and the Lord knows you don’t want to take a trip to the Apple Store. You drag yourself downstairs to begin your morning routine, and let’s be real, usually it consists of dread, fatigue (I hope that first cup of coffee kicks in ASAP!), and a hint of rush. You get yourself out the door with the objective of not spilling your travel mug all over yourself while strapped down with your purse, laptop, gym bag, and car keys in hand. You snag a relatively good parking spot and again proceed to make it to your office without any spills, broken limbs, or body burn from carrying 3 bags on one arm. Let’s crush this day!

Who can relate? Life can feel like a whirlwind. Add kids into the mix and one can easily feel like their life is a never-ending effort to simply keep up.

Cultivating a heart of gratitude can be difficult in the midst of meeting the demands of reality and trying to find enough energy to get through each day. Personally, I realized that I did not enjoy beginning my morning feeling rushed, exhausted, and stressed. Fifteen years ago, I began spending 2 minutes every morning reflecting on things I was grateful for over the last 24 hours. I figured 2 minutes sounded sustainable, so that is where I began. That may not seem like enough time to make a difference, but over the course of 15 years, I’ve spent over 175 hours committed to cultivating gratitude. Those hours have helped me remember what matters most to me and to acknowledge rather than overlook the little things that I am thankful for. During some seasons of my life, I struggled to write. There were days when all I could come up with is “my dog, my home, an intact body.” Other days I felt like I could fill a whole page.

Research compiled in a 2014 Forbes article on gratitude found that the regular practice of gratitude improves mental and physical well-being. One noted study found that Vietnam War Veterans who had higher reported levels of gratitude had less stress and lower rates of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Additionally, research shows that not only are those with higher rates of gratitude less susceptible to headaches and pain, they are also more likely to exercise, see the doctor, and take overall better care of themselves. To make an even stronger case, research participants with higher gratitude levels were more empathetic, less aggressive, and less likely to retaliate when given negative feedback.

Just google gratitude research and you can find a plethora of scholarly articles speaking to the value of practicing gratitude. Beyond just hearing “Research says I should…blah, blah, blah,” we seek to enhance our reader’s lives by providing relevant content and support to catalyze meaningful change. Whether it is planning for an extra 5 minutes before you head out the door for work or school to jot down a few grateful reflections or closing your day with a few minutes to journal before hitting the lights, starting somewhere may be all it takes to begin cultivating more gratitude in your life. Fifteen years later, I have seen this practice powerfully impact the way I experience difficulties in life and savor joys to be remembered.

Morin, A. (2014, November 23). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude that will motivate you to give thanks year-round. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#6c093bf0183c