How a Gratitude Practice Can Build Resilience
RAFT Team, July 28, 2020
Gratitude and resilience go hand in hand.
These two qualities are one of the best ways to spiral your life upward towards more peace, more satisfaction, and greater joy. It all starts by strengthening your gratitude muscle. And like any muscle growth, it takes practice, consistency and dedication. The benefits are worth the investment.
Nick Hobson, co-founder of PsychologyCompass.com, says “Gratitude can foster long-term thinking and lead a person to make better decisions through improved willpower. Failures in willpower are never a good thing, for anyone. But during deliberate moments of feeling gratitude (gratitude journaling, for instance), a person is training their ability to exercise patience….It’s a mind hack that makes a person pay attention to long-term successes rather than immediate gains.”
A Gratitude Practice Can Improve Your Health
The journey into greater gratitude brings about a shift in perspective that allows you to see the big picture more clearly, because you begin to see more and more good things in your life and in the things and people around you. This means less stress and less anxiety and results in better sleep, better relationships, less depression, improved self-esteem, empathy, and faster progress towards your goals. A simple gratitude practice can make all this happen!
Melissa Deuter, MD and author of Stuck in the Sick Role: How Illness Becomes an Identity, says, “What seems to be definitely true is that when you practice gratitude, there is a calming of neurobiology and a turning down of the body’s production of stress hormones and fear responses. If I do a gratitude practice, my blood pressure may be lower. My risk for cancer, diabetes may be lower. My overall anxiety and depression and even severity of more serious illness decrease because the gratitude practice turns down my stress response which improves my body’s immune response.”
Gratitude can shift your mindset and your health, which leads to greater resilience. That certainly makes pursuing a gratitude practice worth the effort!
A Gratitude Practice Increases Your Resource Pool
Gratitude also helps you focus on the resources you have around you rather than the things that hold you back. According to David Nico, PhD and founder of Nico Ventures, a health and medical consulting and investment firm, “It is challenging for negative emotions to survive with the consistent practice of expressed intentional and authentic gratitude.” This abundance mindset empowers you to use those resources and start taking steps towards the things that will serve you well.
How to Build a Gratitude Practice
We can strengthen our gratitude muscle and build a gratitude practice in many different ways. Here are just a few ideas:
Make a daily or weekly gratitude goal.
As with any goal, the more specific we make it, the more likely we are to attain it. Consider a more specific gratitude practice:
- Instead of vocalizing a generic “thank you,” be specific in what you’re thankful for.
- Commit to making a list of a particular number of things you’re thankful for at the end of each day.
- Make a list of your own personal strengths. The more you can see your own value, the more thankful you can be. And you'll take care of yourself better, too!
- Make a list of the resources available to you right now that you can begin to use.
- Finish every gratitude thought with "because." For example, "I'm grateful for my home because...." This helps you transition from what might easily become a rote list of gratitude and into one that helps you sustain joy. You might even find it helps you notice more good things around you in your daily life.
Push the pause button on busy-ness and choose to meditate. This quiet, intentional time, no matter how short or long, can help you recenter, refocus, and make space for gratitude. Explore these meditations with Indrani:
- Experience 5% more joy
- Sit with a wise one
- Open your heart and love yourself
- Permission to be well
- Be present with whatever comes up
Start a gratitude journal
You can begin a gratitude journal in a myriad of ways. Track your weekly gratitude goal. Keep a running list of things you're thankful for. Figure out a gratitude process and document it as you follow it. If you're stuck on how to begin, learn how Indrani and the team approach their own gratitude journaling.
Share your gratitude
When we talk about the things we’re thankful for, we’re helping to build a culture of gratitude around us. And we're reinforcing our awareness of all the good things that surround us on a daily basis.
You'll need discipline to get your gratitude practice rolling, and discipline to keep at it, but the result of filling your life with more gratitude is worth the effort!