Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery. I have used gratitude in my life for many years, and I know it makes a difference in how I view myself, and how life unfolds around me.


But while we may acknowledge gratitude's many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is 'wrong', undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a 'thanksgiving' word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, develop a new habit. And that can take some time.


That's why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we don't have, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.


It's important to remember that gratitude isn't a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It's more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us, and gives us hope.


There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What's on your list?



Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Doing this often may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way. Think about having it on your bedside table, where you can write in it either at the start or end of your day. I finish every day writing five things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal, and take a moment to re-read what I have written to have it fully land. It is a wonderful way for me to drift off to sleep at night. 

Other ways to practice gratitude... 

  • Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures that have meaning to you
  • Practice gratitude around the dinner table, or make it part of your nighttime routine
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing, or silver lining, in a challenging situation. What did you learn from it?
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel!
  • Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for feeling gratitude!


As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work!


Feeling grateful,

~ Cindy x


Cindy Morris
Shift Within