February 17, 2023
Bless This Mess: The Art of Counting Your Blessings for a More Joyful Life
By: Cathy Peterson
We’ve all heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” But what if we took it a step further and actually counted the petals on each bloom? Well, that is the power of a daily gratitude practice. Counting your blessings is a simple yet significant way to boost your happiness. By focusing on the good in your life, you can shift your attention away from negative thoughts and cultivate a more positive outlook. Being grateful is like having a superpower, it transforms ordinary moments into extraordinary experiences.
In this fast-paced world of ours, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget to take a step back and appreciate the little things. We tend to get caught up in the stress of work, the never-ending to-do lists, and the constant barrage of bad news that we forget to focus on the good stuff. Enter gratitude, it’s like the ultimate life hack for happiness. Studies over the past decade have found that people who count their blessings tend to be less depressed and much happier. (1)
Start by Writing it Down
You may wonder how you get started on this gratitude journey, especially if it’s not something you’re used to doing. Start small by taking just a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you're thankful for. It can be as simple as writing them down in a journal and savoring a positive experience. Research shows that gratitude recorded through journal writing produces good mental health by shifting one’s attention away from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy. (1) Journaling in a positive manner helps to reframe your perspective and encourage a greater sense of well-being and contentment.
Ways to CUltivate Gratitude
There are other simple ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
1) Write a thank you note: Expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of another person’s impact on your life can nurture a relationship and make you happier. Make it a habit of sending at least one thank you note a month, and every so often, write one to yourself.
2) Thank someone mentally: If you don’t have the time to write a note, it can help to think about someone who has done something nice for you and thank them mentally.
3) Meditation: Take the time to focus on the present moment without judgment. Pick a positive word or phrase, repeat it, and focus on the gifts you received that day. (2)
Being Grateful Keeps You Healthy
Expressing gratitude has been associated with numerous mental and physical benefits. (4) There is new research and scientific evidence proving that gratitude can produce health benefits. (6) Those who are grateful feel better about their lives overall, are more optimistic about the future, and experience fewer health problems. People who experience gratitude report more feelings of physical and mental well-being and have less aches and pains. (3) Having a grateful outlook is like taking a daily dose of the ultimate natural vitamin that boosts your mood and strengthens your immune system!
Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep
Being grateful can help you sleep better since it promotes a positive outlook and reduces negative thoughts. When we feel positive and content before going to bed, it’s easier for us to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude right before bedtime report better sleep, likely because it reduces stress and anxiety. (3) Since stress is such a sleep disruptor, you will fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly if you count your blessings instead of sheep!
A Few Simple Things to be Grateful For (5)
This is a very good place to start:
- A place to live
- Your health
- Your neighborhood
- Your car
- Your yard
- Your town
- Your family
- Your friends
- Your work
Gratitude isn’t just about the good times and the laughter, it’s also about focusing on the positive in tough times. When life throws you a curveball, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated. But by taking a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for, you can shift your focus from the negatives to the positives, and find a little glimmer of hope. A daily gratitude practice is a simple, yet powerful tool for improving your happiness and well-being. Start counting your blessings today and see how your life transforms for the better. Remember, gratitude is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.