What Is Gratitude? Finding Joy In Simplicity.
Gratitude. For some, this word only pops up once a year around the dinner table, say, Mid-November. But, it is a feeling you can live with day-in and day-out. Today we want to dive into this very subject: What is gratitude and how to practice gratitude today.
What Is Gratitude?
The definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” From this definition, there are two distinct parts, being thankful and showing or returning appreciation. Each of these things has to do with doing—taking action to show gratitude or be gracious. Of course, there are times where we elicit it naturally—maybe at the receipt of a gift or kind gesture—but we can also manifest it daily through practice.
This video by Soul Pancake shows a small experiment where subjects take a happiness quiz and then are asked to write a letter to the person that has impacted them the most. Afterward, Soul Pancake asks the subjects to call the person they wrote about and read them the letter out loud. When they are through, they then take another version of the happiness quiz. For subjects who could get ahold of the person they wrote about, their happiness score jumped from between 4% and 19%! While this is a very small study, it does show that expressing gratitude makes the receiver happy and the individual expressing it.
Studies On Gratitude
We believe backing our articles with real science is essential. So, what is the science of gratitude? One study at UC Berkeley took a look at 192 participants. They divided these folks up into three groups and gave one group the prompt to reflect on their week and write down blessings, the next to write down hassles, and the third to reflect on life events. They found that the gratitude participants felt better about their life as a whole, were more optimistic, and even exercised more.
Greater Good Magazine by UC Berkeley dives into this study and more, showing the incredible benefits of gratitude with science-backed studies. The research we outlined went even further, having subjects write down their blessings, hassles, and life-events daily. They found in this study that people in the blessings group were more likely to help others. In further studies, they saw that gratitude positively impacted sleep and helped individuals feel more connected with others. Now, as we swell up with emotion being grateful for you—our Chuze Family—we are left to wonder how we can collectively practice gratitude daily (or, more often).
How To Practice Gratitude
Write A Letter
As outlined in the initial study, one way to practice gratitude is to write to the person that most positively impacts you and tell them how much they mean to you—then send the letter or call and read it to them. This is a beautiful way to spread kindness throughout our community. This person may be an impactful teacher, boss, parent, grandparent, sibling, or anyone else who has inspired you in your life.
Evidence shows that the positive impact of writing a gratitude letter can last an entire month. That’s for you, the sender. Imagine how much happiness it will give to the person who means so much to you.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Journal overwhelm is a thing, everyone. We get it. When offered advice, we are often told to journal our food, journal our workouts, journal our day, etc. But, the reason this advice is so widespread is that it works. When you write down daily gratitudes (i.e., I am grateful for a job that allows me to take time for self-care.), your brain actually changes. Though it will take time, having a consistent gratitude practice has been shown to cause more outward expression of kindness and gratitude with individuals.
Keeping a gratitude journal is simple. You can buy a 90-day journal for a few bucks online, or grab a notebook from your local drugstore and write down three things you are grateful for when you awake and three good things that happened in your day before you fall asleep. It can look a little something like this:
I am grateful for the sunlight beaming into my room
I am grateful for a warm bed to sleep in
I am grateful for my wellness
Today I spoke to my best friend
Had a beautiful walk with my dogs
Was able to read a few chapters of my book
Not every day will be monumental, but there is gratitude in every day.
Show Kindness On iChuze Fitness
We take kindness and gratitude very seriously here at Chuze. That’s why we’ve built a kindness machine into our virtual fitness platform. (Have we mentioned we do things differently?) In our Heart section, you can find ways to show kindness to others, establishing an attitude of gratitude and extending it to others. Plus, for your acts of service, we donate to a non-profit organization. It’s a win, win, win!
You can also find gratitude meditations like this one with our instructor Ashley Dunlop, who takes you through nine lovely minutes of finding joy in simplicity. There’s lots more self-care, kindness, gratitude, and meditations to enjoy—all from our wonderful experts and instructors.
If you would like to establish a gratitude routine in your daily life, we are here to help. You can find tips on our blog and see our gratitude for you in all that we do in our clubs and on our virtual fitness platform.