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The Practice of Gratitude By Tinia Nassif

Gratitude is such a powerful emotion, one that can make your life better in so many ways. It’s quite difficult to feel depressed or sorry for yourself when you are feeling gratitude.

The practice of gratitude has great positive effects on our well-being; from improving our mental health to boosting relationships with people in our lives. This practice helps train our minds to focus on the positives rather than focusing on the negatives or the lack of. Here’s how to practice gratitude with Tinia Nassif, Positive Psychology and Stress Management Coach.

Three Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

One of the most powerful ways to rewire your brain for more joy and less stress is to focus on gratitude. Here are 3simple ways to become more grateful starting today:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits and good things you enjoy. Recalling moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable theme of gratefulness into your life. List things inside throughout your day that you are grateful for. At the end of the day, you can reach for this book that is meant to hold precious moments whether big or small. You can list your health, your loved ones, your pets, or even a great cup of coffee you had in the morning.

2. Write a Letter to a Loved One

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Whether it’s someone you look up to, or someone who just makes you happy, take the time to tell them you’re glad they’re around. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

3. Visual Reminders

For this exercise, Tinia suggests you hang up a board and stick pictures on it of loved ones, pets, or anything you hold incredibly dear to your heart. You may keep memories or things that make you happy somewhere you can see easily so whenever you look at the board you feel grateful for having such people in your life or such precious moments.

Benefits of Cultivating Gratitude

It boosts your mental health.  Those who write letters of gratitude reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.

Moreover, it helps you accept change. When we are comfortable with the way things already are, it can be difficult to accept when things change—let alone feel grateful for that difference. But when we make it a habit to notice the good change brings, we can become more flexible and accepting. Here are four ways to practice gratitude when change arises.

Finally, it can relieve stress. The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us.

How would you go about expressing your gratitude? We’d love to know. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

September 08, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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