November is National Gratitude month, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, we may be inclined to be more present in our gratitude. Whether we simply take notice of the season’s breathtaking scenery or tell our loved ones how much they mean to us, the end of the year is a great opportunity to pause and enjoy the human experience.
Being more present in our gratitude is always a good thing. And you know what’s even better? How about the fact that gratitude is a feeling that we can train ourselves to experience year-round!
Follow along as, in this article, we explore the secret ingredient to fostering gratitude: mindfulness.
What is Gratitude?
The word “gratitude” is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace or gratefulness. A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, tangible or intangible, gratitude is the intentional practice of acknowledging the good in our lives. Note the word “intentional.” This is where mindfulness comes in.
Gratitude is a journey. While on this journey of acknowledging the positive aspects of our lives, we recognize that the source of this goodness often lies at least partially outside of ourselves. This, in turn, makes us appreciate the people (and pets!) who make up our world.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing your attention on something. For example, the act of meditation is built on mindfulness. Focusing on a word such as “peace,” “happiness,” or “gratitude,” can ground you in that positive state of mind.
Mindfulness and gratitude are connected. Gratitude encourages us to count our blessings and create balance from life’s challenges. Mindfulness helps us handle trials and tribulations with grace and acceptance. Together, gratitude and mindfulness nurture what Buddhists call the “Higher Self.”
Together, mindfulness and gratitude are a powerful duo.
The Power of Gratitude
In addition to helping us to enjoy the moment, gratitude has significant emotional, physical, and social benefits that enrich our well-being.
Gratitude helps us feel happier and turns on the valve for us to experience more positive emotions. It will come as no surprise, then, that the act of gratitude also reduces and prevents depression. Focus your mind on what makes you feel grateful, and you will discover that a plethora of positivity awaits!
You’ve heard the expression “mind over matter.” Well, gratitude has as many physical benefits as it does mental. For starters, people who are grateful tend to sleep better and have fewer aches and pains. They also experience less stress, due to reduced cortisol levels, and may have improved immune function.
It’s fairly simple to measure physical and emotional benefits of gratitude. But this wonderful practice has social benefits, too! Those of us who focus on gratitude are more inspired to give back and support our community. Gratitude can open doors in our professional lives as well. It’s true that a simple “Thank You” goes a long way, especially in regards to strengthening positive relationships at work and leads to increased productivity.
7 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
Of course, it’s important to recognize that some days—even weeks or months—are more challenging than others. You cannot always change your circumstances. But with a little bit of mindfulness, you can, however, shift your perspective. Here are seven mindful ways to foster gratitude.
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Consistency is key, and journaling about the good things in life on the daily is a sure way to keep them top of mind! Plus, what a great way to store memories! Remember, sometimes the littlest things can make all the difference.
2. Make a mental note. Gratitude does not have to be a grand gesture. It doesn’t have to be loud or even tangible! Sometimes, it’s enough to simply be present and make a mental note of all the wonderful things in your life.
3. There’s an app for that. Looking for gratitude on the go? Check out the app store on your phone! ThinkUp is an app for motivation, affirmation, mindfulness, and gratitude. It helps you develop a positive mindset by building healthy habits, overcoming challenges, and achieving your goals.
4. Write a thank-you note. Writing heartfelt letters is truly a lost art. Craft a Thank You letter to someone who has made a positive impact in your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver it in person!
5. Count your blessings. Choose a time every week to write down three to five blessings. And be specific! Reflect on what each blessing means to you, what you felt in that moment, and how you intend to carry this with you.
6. Surround yourself with positivity. Decorate your home and/or workspace with photos of people you love. When you look at them, reflect on the positive impact they have made on your life.
7. Meditate. Is there anything more mindful than meditation? Meditation can be a practice that takes an hour or mere minutes. Find what works for you, and while you meditate, focus on what you're grateful for.
The More the Merrier
Much like happiness, gratitude is a choice. It requires mindfulness to function at its highest potential, and when we get into a rhythm of recognizing all the great goings on of our lives, the benefits are endless!
Gratitude helps us focus (and refocus) on what we have instead of what we lack. Not only is it a skill that can be strengthened with mindful practice; it is also the single most powerful tool for increasing happiness.
At Eterneva, we are truly grateful for each and every one of our customers who trust us with their loved ones and share their unique stories. As much as we love creating diamonds from ashes and hair, we also love being a resource on grief and wellness. If you are experiencing grief after losing a loved one this holiday season, we invite you to check out our blog: Top Ways to Cope with Grief this Thanksgiving.