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When was the last time you took the time to acknowledge, let alone celebrate everything you have?
So many of us lose sight of all the things we have and everything we accomplish because we're so focused on the future and the next goal. It's human to want more: more success, more accomplishments, more things, more validation, more, more, more.
Gratitude allows us to stop, be present, and appreciate the things we have. It shifts us from focusing on what's missing, to enjoying what we have right now. It allows us to look at life through a positive lens, which not only creates more happiness but helps build stronger relationships, improves how we handle the challenges we face, and can even improve our health.
Did you know that scientists have discovered that feelings of gratitude can actually change your brain? Some studies have shown that feeling gratitude can activate areas of the brain that release dopamine and serotonin—the "feel-good" chemicals. I even found research that shows that people who have greater feelings of gratitude have increased activity in the hypothalamus, which impacts our hormones, digestion, and emotions.
So, what I'm saying is that taking the time to appreciate what you have not only can increase your happiness, but it might also make you healthier!
Look around you. There are lots of things to be grateful for. Let's start with the things most of us take for granted: food, water, clothes, fresh air, and the roof over our heads. Then there are your own personal successes to acknowledge: small wins like you got up early and went to the gym or big achievements like you got that promotion. Celebrate all of them!
And while you are practicing gratitude, it's just as important to practice acceptance and forgiveness—they go hand in hand. Learn to forgive and be grateful for the people and events in your life. Even the things that sucked and the people that hurt you contributed to your growth and who you are today.
Many years ago, I decided to stop living life with regrets and started being grateful for my past—even the really shitty stuff. I chose to believe that everything that has happened in my life has brought me to where I am and made me who I am. I chose to learn the lessons in my mistakes and failures. And I chose to believe that some things didn't work out because they weren't right for me. And as a result, I'm a lot happier.
Gratitude is a practice, and like with anything new you learn, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Here are some ways to practice gratitude in your life:
Keep a gratitude journal. Create a habit of writing down three things you're grateful for each morning. If you want to take it to the next level, write out why you are grateful for each one of those things.
Acknowledge someone in your life. Take the time to acknowledge someone in your life for who they are and what they bring to your life. If you can't do it in person, write them a letter or give them a call.
Reflect on your day. At the end of the day, reflect on your successes and accomplishments. Write down the things that went well, and for those that didn't, look for opportunities to learn and grow.
Pray. If you have a spiritual practice, thank God for the things you have in your life.
Living life with a sense of gratitude has totally changed my life. It allows me to focus on all the good stuff I have and not on the things that are missing. That doesn't mean I'm not going after creating bigger and better things, but I'm not letting the things I don't have, control my happiness or my value.
Try it out for yourself and see the difference it can make in your mindset—and your happiness.
Nicole Comis, Certified Life & Executive Coach, helps business owners and other career-driven professionals achieve their BIG career goals while integrating more balance into their lives. She partners with her clients to gain clarity on what they want their future to look like, face their fears, identify obstacles holding them back, and create a plan to help them achieve BIG, stretchy goals that are outside of their comfort zone. Her coaching practice incorporates her client's whole life, not just their career, leading to a more balanced, productive, healthy, and happy life. Nicole is a graduate and certified coach from the Accomplishment Coaching Coaches Training Program and is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Nicole's high-energy, judgment-free, fun, no-BS approach helps men and women live a more balanced life with a career they love, fulfilling relationships, a healthy well-being, and killer confidence!