The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. You’ve likely heard of the importance and benefits of practicing gratitude and creating gratitude lists. Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being grateful - also referred to as thankful or appreciative. The practice of gratitude is about bringing your awareness to an item, a person, or an event in a positive and uplifting way. Focusing on what you already have as opposed to what you desire is the key here.
Harvard Health reported that the practice of gratitude comes with many benefits to your mental and physical health. Practicing gratitude is associated with greater happiness, positive emotions, improved health, improved relationships, increased ability to cope with adverse experiences, and more. If you aren’t regularly practicing gratitude, now is a great time to start!
There are various ways you can practice gratitude. The most popular way to practice includes making a gratitude list, which is a list of ten or more things you’re appreciative or thankful for. However, keeping a basic gratitude list may not work for everyone, and that’s okay! Below are three alternatives to writing gratitude lists.
“I Got To” List
One alternative to keeping a gratitude list is keeping an “I got to” list. This focuses on viewing daily experiences in the light of something you got to do, opposed to something you had to do. Mindset is really important here and adjusting our mindset about a given experience or circumstance can make a big difference. Example, “Today, I got work for a company I believe in and support my family.”
Speak Your Gratitude
Another alternative includes speaking your gratitude out loud. For some, speaking can have a greater impact on their minds than writing. If you’re not a writer, practice speaking your gratitudes out loud, even if it’s just to yourself. You could even use your phone and record your gratitude lists so you can listen to them later when you’re feeling low or ungrateful.
The Art of Savoring
The third and final alternative to gratitude lists is our favorite and it is the art of savoring. It goes beyond gratitude and is a great way to increase your happiness and improve your overall well-being. To savor something, you must intentionally and consciously focus your attention on the positive aspects of a given experience.
The art of savoring is about being in the present long enough to actually experience positive feelings rather than quickly moving on to the next experience. When we allow ourselves to sit in positive feelings and soak them all in, we can instantly boost our happiness and our mood.
Think about eating your favorite dessert. When you’re enjoying your favorite cake or pie or pudding, you likely eat it slowly enough to ensure you’re allowing yourself the time needed to enjoy the flavors to the fullest. This is the art of savoring in its simplest form.
Try applying that concept to an experience such as a walk in the park, spending time with loved ones, or participating in a hobby. The focused awareness we put on the positive emotions experienced during an activity or personal encounter allows us to feel those emotions to the fullest, just like our favorite dessert.
When we focus on the good, the good gets better. Savoring amplifies positive thoughts while reducing the space for negative thoughts. Practicing the art of savoring not only boosts our happiness and mood, but it can also help us better cope with adverse experiences. Something important to note when it comes to gratitude and the art of savoring is that we must not wait until our lives feel “perfect” to practice. Gratitude and the art of savoring is about focusing on the good that you have now, not waiting for good to find you.