Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude is the practice of feeling a sense of appreciation or thankfulness for something or someone, either tangible or intangible. It is often practiced and thought about when things are going well and when life feels on track: we might focus on being grateful for good health, landing our dream job, acing a test, or spending time with family.  But what about when things aren’t completely on track or we’re not quite where we want to be? These are the times when gratitude isn’t as easy but is just as, if not more, important.

Gratitude is incredibly valuable because it can shift our perspective from focusing on what we don’t have and what is going wrong, to what we do have and what is going right. Closely tied to mindfulness, gratitude brings our awareness to the present moment and allows us to engage and acknowledge both the big and the small things in the here and now. It slows things down so that we can sit with the small, everyday pleasures that often get passed by. This might look like gratitude for a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a great book, the feeling of the sun on our skin, or a hug from a friend. Practicing gratitude benefits our emotional and psychological well-being, builds resilience, and reduces stress. One of the main long-term benefits of practicing gratitude often is, that by continuously working to shift from a negative mindset to a more positive one, we develop the tools and build habits that allow us to better manage difficult situations. Additionally, it can improve relationships, as sharing gratitudes with a partner enhances emotional intimacy and fosters a more positive communication style."

Gratitude can be shown and practiced in a multitude of ways, including verbalizing a simple “thank you” or expressing appreciation. A gratitude journal is a great way to get started because it increases mindfulness as one considers their present moment and puts pen to paper to express their thoughts. To get started, try noting down 3 things that you are grateful for.  Experiment with completing this in the morning or right before bed and decide what feels best. To build gratitude into your routine, it can be helpful to set reminders to pause and identify something that you are grateful for. Other options might include setting an intention of gratitude before a walk or an outing and focusing on being present, observing your surroundings, and expressing gratitude. There is no right or wrong way to practice gratitude; do what feels right for you and if you are looking for additional support, reach out to a counsellor at Walmsley.

Kaitlin Chapple, MA, RCC
Walmsley EFAP