Why you need gratitude affirmations in your life
Saying “please” and “thank you” is drilled into us from a young age. We’re told to be grateful for what we have, which no doubt we are. But outwardly expressing our gratitude is one thing. Inwardly reflecting on it is another altogether.
According to Psychologist Dr Bronwyn Coward, gratitude affirmations and practices may have positive effects on our lives. And growing with gratitude may be easier than you think.
“Practicing gratitude and reflecting on things that you're grateful for can really help to quiet or shift underlying negative self-talk,” Dr Bronwyn says.
“It can also help you to reflect on particular events or memories, and form stronger positive associations around those.”
And gratitude practice is nothing new: many acts of prayer, saying grace or giving thanks are – at heart – forms of gratitude.
So, before you dismiss ‘being grateful’ as one of those modern, new-age, hippy things, remember that gratitude has been around for centuries.
What science says about the benefits of practising gratitude
According to Dr Bronwyn, research shows that gratitude may be good for you.
“There’s some evidence in the literature to show that the practice of gratitude does have positive effects,” she explains. “The effect isn’t necessarily as great as that seen with other psychological interventions, but the research shows that it can add to positive wellbeing.”
So what, exactly, does the research say? Here are just a few examples:
- In one study, researchers found a link between gratitude and better physical health.
- Another study found that undergraduate students with higher levels of gratitude had better social support, which was both directly and indirectly linked to their wellbeing.
- A further study found a connection between the practice of gratitude and higher levels of self-reported life satisfaction and self-esteem.
Scientific mic drop.
What are gratitude affirmations?
Gratitude affirmations are a simple way to practise gratitude during your day. They serve as a reminder of the things you’re most thankful for in your life. They may encourage positive thinking, and may even help you cope with difficult situations in your life, such as dealing with job loss or moving house.
Generally, gratitude affirmations start with a statement, such as “I’m thankful for…” or “I appreciate…” You then follow this with something meaningful that you’re grateful to have in your life.
Your gratitude affirmations might be about your level of happiness in life, your resilience, your productivity at work or even your ability to feed your family healthy, sustainable food choices.
You can say your gratitude affirmations in the morning when you wake up, in the evening before you go to bed, or at whatever time works for you.
Incorporating other gratitude practices into your routine
Of course, knowing that something’s good for you and actually doing that thing are two very different situations.
The good news is that a gratitude practice can be very simple. The most important thing, according to Dr Bronwyn, is being consistent.
Here are her top three ideas for incorporating a simple gratitude practice into your routine:
- Write a gratitude journal
Whether you keep a daily gratitude journal or a weekly one, writing in it involves taking the time to think about everything you’re grateful for.
- Start a gratitude glass jar
This activity is something you can add to overtime. Each time you’re grateful for something, write it on a piece of paper and add it to the jar. Then, a few months down the track, you can open the jar and reflect on all those moments of gratitude.
- Introduce a gratefulness board at work
Gratitude is also something that can work for team building. Team members can add comments on the board about what they appreciate in other members. This can then serve to bring people in the team together.
You have to start somewhere
If you’re struggling to start your gratitude practice, Dr Bronwyn suggests trying a tool that’s often used in mindfulness: tapping into your five senses.
She recommends asking yourself, “What’s something I can hear that I’m grateful for? What’s something I can feel? Taste? Smell? Touch?”
Use your five senses as a guide and start there.
So… what are you grateful for today?
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Dr Bronwyn Coward is a registered Psychologist, an endorsed Clinical Neuropsychologist and an AHPRA board-approved supervisor who draws on over a decade of experience to bring solution-based assessments to her clients.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board July 2021.