Three Ways to Grow in Gratitude CatholicMom 800x800

In this month of Thanksgiving, it's the perfect time to think about the importance of Gratitude for our whole being - our minds, our bodies, and our souls.

In The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology Dr. Christopher Kaczor shares his discoveries for why gratitude is so important from both a scientific and spiritual perspective.  (Watch the interview with Dr. Kaczor here) Through his research, Dr. Kaczor notes that practicing gratitude leads to:

  • Increased feelings of energy, alertness, enthusiasm, and vigor
  • Success in achieving personal goals
  • Better coping with stress
  • A sense of closure in traumatic memories
  • Bolstered feelings of self-worth and self-confidence
  • Generosity and helpfulness
  • Greater sense of purpose and resilience

In his book, Dr. Kaczor shared three simple ways to grow in gratitude.

1. The Three Good Things

In his book and and in an interview with Brandon Vogt, Dr. Kaczor shares a simple and very effective way to grow in Gratitude each day with, what positive psychology calls, the The Three Good Things Excercise:

At the end of the day, simply think over how the day went looking for whatever went well—a tasty nectarine at lunch, a funny conversation with a neighbor, a task finally off the “to do” list, or a moment of relaxation with hot coffee. Once you’ve come up with three things, you write down what happened and why it happened. Research indicated that “Three Blessings Exercise” [or the Three Good Things] reduces depression and helps increase happiness by making us more aware of the good things that are already in our lives to which we may have not paid much attention. Centuries ago in his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola recommended something like “Three Blessing Exercise” in what is called the Examen. When we look for what is good we are more likely to find and celebrate what is good. When we thank God for the joys we find in life, our gratitude is enhanced.

Dr. Kaczor goes on to explain that,

The Three Good Things exercise helps correct our negativity bias..there are things in our lives we wish were different...yet to have an accurate and unbiased understanding we also need to recognize the good things in ourselves, in others, and in society that we can so quickly forget or even fail to notice altogether. Once we have practiced the Three Good Things exercise for a week or more we begin to see things with new eyes. As good things happen we become more aware they are happening.

The Gratitude Revealed project provides simple steps for how to practice The Three Good Things exercise here.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Following Robert Emmons lead in his book Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, Dr. Kaczor recommends taking time to write down what you are thankful for according to each day Emmons' designated category. Each day, write about these things you are thankful for:

  • Monday - Gifts from others.
  • Tuesdays - A good you've enjoyed but that will end soon.
  • Wednesdays - A good that we have that could not have been.
  • Thursdays - Whom we are grateful for and why.
  • Fridays - Something bad leading to something good.
  • Saturdays & Sundays - It's the weekend, enough said!

3. A Gratitude Letter

Write a Gratitude Letter to someone in your life you are thankful for, send it to them or even visit them and read it to them. (Bring tissues!) In this way, you are not only increasing your own happiness but also sharing that gift with another by extending the gratitude from within to the outside world. Who knows, maybe that person will follow your lead and do the same for another and create a domino effect of Gratitude around the world.

How do you grow in Gratitude? 


Copyright 2015 Erika Marie
Image copyright 2015 Erika Marie. All rights reserved.

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