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Published on November 9, 2020

7 Benefits of Gratitude That Will Remind You To Be Thankful Daily

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7 Benefits of Gratitude That Will Remind You To Be Thankful Daily

There are a plethora of human emotions that can be considered universal in one way or another. One of these is gratitude. Gratitude is a human feeling that transcends culture, despite different cultures having various expressions of it. There are many benefits to gratitude, and one of the most important is that it reminds us to be thankful in our lives.

But before we go deeper on the benefits of gratitude and how we can practice it, let’s first define what gratitude is.

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a powerful emotion accompanied by appreciation. It is a condition that makes a person thankful for something. Gratitude can also refer to the conscious act of being thankful for what you already have in your life.

Examples of what you may express gratitude for includes your health, family, friends, relationships, work-life, or home life. When you begin to realize how much you actually have to be grateful for in your present situation, your outlook on life can positively change.

How Can You Practice Gratitude?

There are many quick and simple ways to practice gratitude daily, examples include:

  • As soon as you wake up, be thankful that you can experience another day and take a few minutes to think about what else in your life that you can be grateful for.
  • Practice meditation that focuses on gratitude.
  • A gratitude journal can dramatically change your day. Use it to document what experiences you have had that day that you can be grateful for.
  • Practice mindfulness throughout the day. Be aware of what you are experiencing there and then, and be grateful for it.
  • At the end of each day when you go to bed, reflect on your achievements, successes, and what you have to be grateful for that day.

What are the Benefits of Practicing Gratitude?

Given the number of ways we can express and practice gratitude in our lives, it’s not surprising that doing so has a positive effect on us. Here are 7 benefits of gratitude that will make you thankful for your life.

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1. Happiness

Happiness is an important feeling that humans strive to achieve, and there is evidence to suggest that practicing gratitude can help you to do this. If you focus on what you are grateful for in life, then you are, in fact, focusing on what makes you happy.

There are studies on how practicing gratitude can lead to a happier life. It has been found that gratitude enables the mind to compensate for the brain’s innate tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life, such as worry. Gratitude then replaces this with positive emotions, such as love and joy, which in turn promotes happiness.[1]

Gratitude catapults us into happiness because gratitude is our true nature—and so is happiness. Gratitude and happiness are not actually two different things—they can be considered as one and the same.

When you’re grateful, you will be happy, and when you’re happy you are automatically grateful. At the end of the day, all that anyone of us wants is happiness, and the easiest, fastest way to happiness is through gratitude. Remain grateful, and you will live your whole life in happiness.

The notion of The Law Of Attraction (like attracts like) helps us understand how gratitude can promote happiness. If you are grateful for what makes you happy in your life, then you will attract more happiness. If you practice gratitude, then you are opening your mind to positivity—and so the law of attraction suggests that more positivity will come your way.

2. Improved Sleep

Practicing gratitude can promote an improvement in your sleep. It has already been stated that gratitude promotes positivity. When you are in bed and ready to sleep, it is a time when your mind can work overtime. You may go over worries that have accumulated throughout the day and negative thoughts may rise to the surface.

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However, if you have written in your gratitude journal just before getting into bed and have spent a few minutes focusing on the successes and achievements of that day, there is very little reason or space for negativity to come to mind.

The result is a peaceful positive mind that is ready for a quality night’s sleep, rather than a mind dwelling on the negatives and worries of that day. Furthermore, a meditation focused on gratitude can prepare your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.

3. You May Save Money

Being grateful for what you already have in life that money cannot buy, such as family, friends, and relationships may lead to you living a life where you find more joy in less materialistic things.

Previously, you may have thought that a new item, jewelry, or clothing may make you happy if you are feeling low. Once you practice gratitude, you may now feel that a nice walk in the countryside with your family can bring you greater happiness and more satisfaction. Gratitude provides you with the opportunity to reflect on what you have, not what you want.

4. Improved Relationships With Your Family, Friends, and Partner

At some point in any relationship, you may feel that you are having more lows than highs. You may irritate each other with your habits or traits. The other person may take their stresses out on you and you may be arguing more than usual. Practicing gratitude for that person and your relationship can help you to begin focusing more on the positives and what that relationship brings to you rather than the negatives.

You never know, you may actually find that the relationship brings more benefits to your life than you originally thought, and you may appreciate that relationship more than ever before.

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5. Improved Mental Health

Gratitude is a state of mind and an attitude. If a person shifts from a negative state of mind where they have feelings such as anxiety and depression to a more positive state of mind using gratitude, then they can greatly improve their mental health.

Gratitude involves focusing on what you are thankful for in your life. If you have worries and they play on your mind, the worries can seem bigger and less manageable than they actually are. By practicing gratitude, you can put your worries into perspective as you focus on what you already have and are thankful for. You can then go on to manage life’s challenges from a more positive mindset, and you may find that these challenges are easier to manage.

Leading on from this, your self-esteem may also improve. If you are feeling better about your situation, then this in turn can make you feel better about yourself.

Research has also shown that “by consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.”[2]

The simple act of reminding yourself of the positive things in your life—even as simple as the roof over your head or food on your plate—can invoke feelings of thankfulness and optimism that make managing stress, depression, or anxiety easier.

6. Physical Health

As a result of an improvement in mental health by practicing daily gratitude, your physical health can also be improved. If you are in a healthy mental state, then you are more likely to be motivated to want to look after yourself physically, and this can lead to you taking more exercise or eating healthier. Yoga can be a great way to improve your physical health and mindset.

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Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.[3]

7. Career Benefits

The benefits of practicing gratitude in your personal life can carry over to your work life automatically. For example, reduced stress and a generally better sense of well-being in your personal life reflect on your work-life by enabling you to concentrate better at work and not be preoccupied with personal problems.

However, there are specific benefits to your work life that gratitude can bring. These can include finding meaning in your work, which in turn enables you to feel that your work has an impact on others in a positive way. This can then improve productivity because you feel that your work is making a difference and is worthwhile.

Work generally takes up a large part of your day. You may be with your work colleagues for more time than you are with your family. This part of the day can be made more positive and meaningful by practicing gratitude, which can help you to want to get out of bed in the morning to go to work.

Final Thoughts

Gratitude is a mindset that can be achieved by making it a simple habit that forms part of your daily routine, and the bonus is that it is not time-consuming. Gratitude can improve your whole well-being, induce a sense of fulfillment, and make a huge impact in many areas of your life.

If a simple habit can improve your happiness, sleep, relationships, financial situation, physical health, mental health, and career, then make the conscious effort to start practicing gratitude today and spread the word.

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Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Charlotte Chidlow

Declutter Consultant and Life Coach with a BSc (Hons) Psychology with the Open University.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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