November is National Gratitude Month, a time to strengthen your ability to notice and appreciate all the positive aspects of your life. It’s possible that the most powerful way to increase your happiness levels is to develop the habit of Heartfelt Gratitude.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to enhance optimism, happiness, success, generosity, and physical health. Positive psychology studies also show that the key to a gratitude practice that provides long-term increases in your overall happiness levels is to make the practice heartfelt.
So, instead of just listing the three-to-five things you are grateful for, take a few minutes with each one. In this time, get really specific about what aspect you are grateful for.
For example, instead of writing that you’re grateful for, “My spouse, George,” you might write, “George’s sense of humor and evenness when the dog raced through the house with muddy paws.” Then you’d take a moment to really picture George and feel the warmth of gratitude in your heart for him.
Do this for each specific person, place, or thing you put on your gratitude list. The practice of heartfelt gratitude also helps you become a benefit finder because you start to be on the look for things to appreciate as you go about your day. You’ll actually become a benefit seeker!
How to Practice Heartfelt Gratitude:
- Do it at least weekly. Anywhere from once a week to every day is beneficial.
- Keep it fresh! Introduce variety, even in the same general topic.
- Do it mindfully, really focusing on what you’re writing.
- Make it heartfelt.
Start a Heartfelt Gratitude Journal
Grab a notebook, legal pad, blank book, or just use your regular journal. Don’t procrastinate searching for the perfect book! Beginning tonight, take a few minutes to write down three to five things you’re grateful for and be fully present with each item, using all your senses and an open heart.