The best way to boost your health and find more joy (even if you've heard it all before)

Remember how I told you I was reminded to choose to see the joy at 4.30 one morning? Obviously, that little life lesson was about getting more grateful (something I desperately needed to do at the time).

But there's a funny little link between joy and gratitude that I've since discovered. Social researcher (and Oprah favourite) Brene Brown explains it this way: “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

So, the more grateful we are, the more joyful we become. Which means we don't have to be feeling joyful in order to start feeling grateful – we just get grateful and the joy will come. Nice one.

You can listen to Brene chat about this here (she's got a tip for making kids more grateful too):

In positive psychology, they say gratitude is the key to happiness and living a fulfilling life. And scientists tell us gratitude is one of the most reliable methods for boosting happiness and life satisfaction, reducing anxiety and depression, improving sleep, boosting the immune system, enhancing educational outcomes, and even lowering blood pressure. You can read about it here

And it's not arduous: just one week of a tangible gratitude practice can have health benefits for up to six months. That's potent stuff.

If you've been browsing the bookstores, you'll know gratitude is big right now, and for good reason. Spiritual authors agree gratitude is a welcome mat for even more goodness in your life (what you focus on grows).

Brene Brown’s bestselling book The gifts of imperfection encourages us to cultivate gratitude and joy as a way of letting go of our belief in lack and our fear of uncertainty, and so live a more wholehearted life (which she defines as one in which you believe you are worthy and enough) – the point of all of Brene’s work.

And New York Times bestselling author Pam Grout has just released the entertaining read, Thank and grow rich. Well worth checking out. 

So what's a tangible gratitude practice? Two common ones are journalling (writing down what we are grateful for each day), and The Three Good Things (or The Three Blessings) activity from ‘the father of positive psychology’ Dr Martin Seligman. In The Three Good Things, you simply write down three good things that happened in your day and why they happened. If you want more ideas, check out this list from Greater Good in Action, or Oprah on gratitude. There's also the worldwide photographic project celebrating the extraordinary power of gratitude, 365 Days of Gratitude.

Lately, we've been asking the kids to name three good things that happened during their day. It certainly makes them stop and think – and it's infinitely better dinner table conversation than complaints about my food!

Do you have a gratitude practice? What works for you?

I'm grateful you're reading my blog! 

Natalie Bartley