The practice of gratitude has physical, emotional and interpersonal benefits. It actually changes the science of the brain and stimulates the neurotransmitters to produce serotonin and it increases levels to elevate mood and decrease depression symptoms.
The very definition of gratitude:
"the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness "
1. Be Thankful! "The quality of being thankful: " Keeping a thankfulness journal is the best way to reflect on gratitude. Yes, you know what you appreciate in life but taking a moment to list those blessings can give you an account of gratefulness and quickly increase the serotonin.
Try the following prompts as you start your gratefulness journal or personal reflection:
* What relationships am I grateful for?
* What abilities do I have that I'm grateful for?
* What insights have I gained that I'm grateful for?
* What opportunities do I have that I'm grateful for?
* What am I able to offer others that I'm grateful for?
Philippians 4:8 says, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--think about such things."
2. Show Appreciation! "Readiness to show appreciation for:" The word "readiness" indicates action! This is being prepared, or in a ready state to show thankfulness. A response to appreciation also speaks of gratitude and keeps the serotonin flowing.
Consider the following actions that show appreciation:
* Sending a handwritten note of thanks for a kind action .
* Offer congratulations and celebrate the achievements of others.
* Highlight appreciation when you receive it-your child comes home with good grades, display it on the fridge, for example. Or compliment your server for good service at a restaurant by telling a supervisor.
* Share your material possessions-this reminds you what you have and allows you to bless others with it.
Look for ways to show appreciation and even seek it out!
3. Be Kind! "And return to kindness": How can you return the kindness shown to you?
The very act of paying it forward, looking for ways to first show kindness and appreciation to others will reorganize your mental frame work and change your mood. This requires your focus to be external and focused on others. While it is important to practice self care, the practice of giving attention to others builds gratitude and repays you richly.
Consider moments of kindness:
* Be gracious when challenged- it's easy to react quickly and angrily when challenged but by pausing, listening and staying polite you show kindness that can quickly diffuse the issue.
* Lend a hand- when seeing a person in need (disabled person or elderly) struggle to do something, offer your help.
Gratitude creates powerful change and allowing ourselves to remember those things for which we are thankful for shifts our focus and settles our nervous system. How can you capture something you're grateful for, show appreciation to or return kindness today?