"As you continue to send out love, the energy returns to you in a regenerating spiral... As love accumulates, it keeps your system in balance and harmony. Love is the tool, and more love is the end product." -Sara Paddison, Hidden Power of the Heart
Although I have yet to master the practice of a gratitude journal, I have found that one way to create a more grateful disposition is to be of more service. Offering help freely and bearing witness to the difference you can make in the lives of others actually makes you more positive and happy. In fact, one study showed that people who were engaged in helping others over a year showed seven times the positivity benefits of the patients being helped. Altruistic acts of kindness when performed with greater frequency actually raised the level of one's overall wellbeing.
In the normal day to day life you lead altruism creates higher levels of happiness and positivity. I have noticed this effect in myself of late while spending hours on the organization and management of a spring basketball team. In the past, the effort had made me feel overtaxed and resentful, but this time it is rewarding. I am continuously looking for ways for the team to be a help to different kids and families. I am excited to see the good that is happening for each player and among the boys. It is nice to have some of the other parents express their gratitude but even nicer is the positive relatedness that I feel towards them. Helping people and creating opportunities for good is the most fertile ground for making friendships.
Another aspect of embodying gratitude is how it makes you feel better. Actually it is one of the most beautiful chicken and egg problems to solve... When you are generous with your time and attention, you not only feel appreciated more by others, but you appreciate yourself more. This state is highly correlated to a general sense of wellbeing, which comes out looking like feeling vital, optimistic, satisfied. Depressed moods don't stick around and there seems to be a buffer effect on stress. All of which creates a healthy feedback loop to making you even more grateful, helpful and well.
But maybe the coolest benefit of practicing this generous gratitude is that your sense of practicing this generous gratitude is that your sense of interconnectedness brings you a quiet faith in the goodness of life. It is like a revolving door, faith enhances the ability to feel and offer gratitude and practicing gratitude makes you believe in what you cannot see. Not surprisingly, this turns into a feeling of more abundance with less need for materialistic possessions. We become full with the things that matter and want for less.