Guest post written by Dipal Shah, a Mindset Expert, Global Speaker, and Spiritual Mentor
There are moments when the sun is shining bright. Everything is going your way, you don’t have to work so hard to get things done. But there are other moments where you find yourself struggling and stuck, with an endless to-do list. You may have a headache and knots in your stomach. Thankfulness has disappeared from your daily routine, but practicing gratitude is what will make your day easier, happier, and so much more fun.
Giving thanks is an effective form of self-care: the medicine of greater well-being. Gratitude requires courage and compassion, not a certain attitude or something that only certain people know how to do. Giving thanks is what people have practiced and made part of their daily life to find more happiness. Among the most important lessons of my life is that in order to shift and transform to better health and mindset, implementing gratitude by giving thanks in all areas of my life changes everything; gratitude instantaneously created overall happiness within and around me.
When I started practicing gratitude, I looked around to see how many others do this too. What I noticed is that children practice gratitude so much more than adults. We have forgotten this lost art. As children: Do you remember giving thanks to every single person and about every little thing? You were just a grateful person because things meant so much to you. Nothing was taken for granted.
This gratitude kept you joyful, seeing the larger picture of life. As time passed, you began to forget what meant so much to you as a child. When your expectations are not met you forget the bigger picture and focus on the smaller picture. Your focus is the journey of navigating life.
Have you put thankfulness in the back seat? Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher, uses the analogy of looking at a cloud in the sky. As you zoom in, you will see small specks of gray or white; however, when you zoom out to a larger picture, you see all of the wonderful colors and surroundings.
The world inside you could be so much happier if you look at the bigger picture in life. Responsibilities bog us down, as we forget to take care of our mindset. Social media and cell phones don’t make life any simpler but you can find simplicity in all the chaos by making the choice to choose thankfulness.
Gratefulness is important, not only for mental health but also physical health. During the pandemic, there has been a rise in mental health from depression, anxiety, to suicide.
However, the pandemic could be seen in a different way: as a time of stillness and self-reflection with more time on your hands to be thankful and find happiness within. Some took advantage of that, however, others found themselves sick, lonely and unhappy.
When people begin to reflect on things they don’t have or compare themselves to others, we fall into a negative mindset. In order to create a positive mindset, even through the hard times, one has to practice gratitude: where happiness lies.
Everyone searches for happiness as if it is something they can buy or is outside of them. Happiness is the small things you do that add up and impact your joy compass. It’s simple to measure.
Ask yourself: How happy am I right now on a scale of 1 to 10? Ask yourself this question every hour to gauge your happiness and write it down. Then start to practice gratitude and see how your happiness compass is doing. After 3 days, measure your results.
Did you notice that when positive things happen, your day is more productive, you feel good about yourself, you are kind to others around you, less moody, more pleasant to be around? The chemical reaction that happens in the brain is a phenomenon that creates a natural release of happy hormones and it lights up different areas of the brain. Studies have shown that actual structural changes take place when practicing gratitude. Gratitude not only helps the one receiving it but also the one giving gratitude. This creates a massive wave of positivity and optimism.
Scientists found that a one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms. However, the effects disappeared within three to six months, signaling that gratitude is an act to be repeated again and again.
Growing research around Gratitude links regular doses of thankfulness to greater health and wellbeing:
• Less stress and anxiety
• Fewer aches and pain
• More positivity
• Better clarity, focus, and decision-making skills
• Get better sleep
• Lower blood pressure
• Increase immune system function
• Feel more alive
Our world gives us so many ways to practice gratitude beyond saying “Thank You” all day long. Give thanks in the modern world. With creativity, we can use gratitude as a tool to enhance both our lives and others. Here are 14 simple acts of gratitude that can be used anywhere you go:
• Leave a nice message/text/post-it/email for someone close to you
• Express thanks to a job well done for your employees
• Help a colleague or someone
• Smile at someone
• Get involved in family chores
• Hug a loved one
• Tell a loved one how you feel
• Be kind to someone
• Show appreciation
• Give praise
• Say something nice to someone
• Give someone a call
• Send someone a nice note, card, gift
• Give time to family and friends you haven’t seen in a while
How can you make thankfulness something you practice every day? Remember, gratitude doesn’t cost you much: only time, confidence, and courage. If you have any of these three things, then starting and sustaining a gratitude practice is life-changing. I recommend the following program: 21 days to Gratitude with the STOP Method. It takes 21 days to create a habit, therefore it will be important if you want to be happier to practice this technique for 21 days.
S -Stop whatever you are doing every hour
T -Thankful for 1 thing
O- Observe how you feel after the action by observing your breath and being present
P- Play with giving thanks in any way you can, all day long. Look for opportunities to show gratitude.
When you begin this technique, you may notice a massive web of positivity beginning. How you react to things that come your way on a daily basis will shift at work, at home, your health, and in relationships. You may think this feels like a lot of work, but it’s simple. When you practice 21 Days of the STOP Method, you are spending 10 seconds of your time every hour because that is all it takes to STOP which means in a day(12 hours) you are dedicating Gratitude Practice to a total of 2 minutes throughout the day.
I know you can do this. If you are ready to change your perspective on life, want a more positive outlook, and a healthier state of mind: it’s time to commit to the practice.
To help you release stress in your life and transform into a happier state, I have created a Complimentary PDF of Ancient Yogic Techniques that will help you release stress in 3 minutes or less. Please visit Ananda4life.com to start your STRESS-FREE journey today.