Welcome to #practices4life—practical tips for living a happier, healthier, and more peaceful life from Jim Blake, CEO of Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village.
“Here I share techniques I have learned for living a more balanced life. Some of these can be mastered, while some we will 'practice' for the rest of our lives. The important thing is to keep trying because with every effort, we get better. And improvement is the goal—to make this life experience better for ourselves and those around us.”—Jim
Greetings, friends! Today’s topic will seem a little out of season since it’s not November, but we are about to embark on a discussion of gratitude and thanksgiving.
“Why?” you might ask.
Well, as we are about to find out, there are countless benefits to being grateful year-round. A regular gratitude practice helps us live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. So let’s get into it, shall we?
The dictionary defines gratitude in this way: "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness." Let’s call it the conscious practice of feeling and sharing appreciation for the people, events, circumstances, material, and nonmaterial blessings in our lives.
Taking a few moments to reflect and rest in the feeling of being grateful allows us to feel abundant and richly blessed. It does so by moving our focus to what we do have rather than those things we don’t have. As a result, we feel more positive, joyful, and aware of the many things that are in our lives—things we might otherwise take for granted were we not practicing gratitude!
Some say being thankful moves us to a state of bliss because we see how much value already exists in our daily lives. Many spiritual masters have told us gratitude can relieve our mental and emotional suffering.
Today even science has begun to recognize and document the benefits of gratitude. Some clinical studies have found being grateful increases healing and recovery in our bodies. How is that possible? Being thankful increases the production of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin—all proven to create positive mental states and overall wellbeing physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Even better, being grateful requires no special training. It can be a morning or evening practice of simply being still and taking inventory of those things you have to feel thankful for in your life. Many folks who have already discovered the wonderful power of gratitude use a daily gratitude journal. Still others have learned to incorporate the practice throughout the day by simply and silently feeling grateful in the moment for all the many little things (events, circumstances) that go right during each day of our lives.
The important thing is to find and start a gratitude practice that works for you. We know the documented philosophical and scientific benefits. Leaders, teachers, and ordinary people of all kinds have stated that this simple practice completely transformed their daily lives, changing their outlook and perspective on what is truly important.
May your gratitude practice be just as transformative. Let gratitude be our practice, for as we know, practice makes progress.