The #21daygratitudechallenge is about making your life positive, vibrant, worthwhile. This challenge features a daily multimedia recording of affirmations, daily pictures of things that inspire gratitude, an action challenge and personal reflections.
Why you need gratitude
There are numerous benefits to practicing gratitude. Our List is inspired by Robert Emmons’ (world’s leading gratitude expert) article on the Greater Good website.
- Stronger immune system
- Fewer muscular aches and pains
- Lower blood pressure
- Less stress-induced heartburn
- Increased awareness of physical health
- Increased physical activity
- Longer and deeper sleep
- More refreshed in the mornings
- Better postures and parasympathetic responses
- Increase in positive emotions
- Increased alertness
- Increased feelings of joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness
- Feeling “alive”
- Higher self esteem
- Blocks toxic emotions
- Increased presence and attentiveness
- Refreshed by positive thoughts regularly
- Reduced stress
- Engaged relationships
- Increased positive behaviour (helpfulness, generosity, compassion)
- Increased social interaction
- Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Less superficial relationships
- Authentic interactions with others
- Less compulsion to put on a “front”
- Reduced feelings of hostility and fear of others
Studies show that happiness strongly linked to gratitude. More than material possessions, marital status or age. Later in this challenge, we will share a video of people engaging in acts of gratitude and how it changed their perspective.
Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis and an authority in gratitude research has conducted numerous studies and written textbooks on the topic of gratitude. In fact, his studies show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. He talks about the concept of a happiness ‘set-point’ – your baseline level of happiness. Good or bad events temporarily raise or lower your happiness but you always returns to your set-point once the effect of the external stimulus has passed. Practicing gratitude raises your happiness set-point so that regardless of external circumstances, you stay at a higher baseline of happiness. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Emmons’ website:
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“In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events” (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
“A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.”
“A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
“Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.”
“In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.”
Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
Those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships.
For the next 21 days, we want you to look at the people, challenges, personal tragedies, daily hardships and pet peeves in your life with a gratitude filter on your eyes. Whether you are materially blessed or just getting by, we want you to cultivate the habit of seeking gratitude and positivity in every life experience. One thing we promise, the more you practice living in gratitude, the more natural it will become.
Some of our exercises and activities will include:
- taking the 365 gratitude photo challenge
- writing letters that you may or may not share
- reflecting on situations in your life
- keeping a gratitude diary
- random acts of kindness
- refocussing on the positive things
- ignoring negative energies
Obviously there will be many more as we delve deeper into this month’s intensive.
It is our hope that as we approach Thanksgiving festivities this month, you will join us in focussing on personal growth rather than material things. Rather than stuffing yourself full of leftovers, we ask you to join us in our practice of mindfulness. Your belly will thank you, so will your mind.
If you want to join us on our journey, simply use the hashtag #21daygratitudechallenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You can connect with us on these social media platforms by clicking on the icons at the top right of this page.
We want to leave you with the following affirmation to kick off the first day of our #21daygratitudechallenge:
[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]I am grateful I have a place to live.[/quote]
There are scores of people all over the world who cannot boast this basic luxury. Check out this powerful article about the lives of homeless people by John Hwang, who started the “Being Kind is Cool Project”
[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjpJwvWjVUw[/youtube]
Today’s Task: Give the money you would normally spend on a dinner to a homeless person in need.
Finally, here’s a transcript of our multimedia recording for those of you who are watching this at work, beside a sleeping baby, on the subway or anywhere you need some silent reading.
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As I get chauffeured home everyday, I pass by scores of homeless people. The reality of living in a developing country. There are naked toddlers. There are little girls with ragged dresses. Mothers breastfeeding their kids on the infernal streets of the dusty, arid city I call home. Finally, there are boys that look barely above ten. Labouring at construction sites with pickaxes almost their size.
Affirmation: I am grateful I have a place to live. I am grateful I have running water, electricity, a house made of stone and glass. I am grateful I have the security of a gated community and the luxury of privacy. I am grateful my child never has to experience the harsher realities of life. I am grateful she not only has a big house to live in, but also a big garden where she can safely romp. Where the biggest danger she faces is to get thirsty, tired or tanned. There are kids out there whose playground is a dirty, dangerous, high-traffic road. I am grateful that with or without these material luxuries, I am alive, loved, fed and sheltered. I am grateful for things that I used to think were a scourge: a mortgage, car loans, having to mow the lawn. I am grateful because these ‘problems’ mean that I have a roof over my head. I am sheltered from the heat, the noise, the pollution. I am even sheltered from other people. I am grateful that as a result of a random, perhaps divine lottery, I have been blessed with things that these street people I would consider unimaginable luxury.