Easy ways to practice gratefulness in your life
The dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” But how can we add more gratitude to our daily lives?
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Start with a simple “thank you”
Using just two small words such as “thank you” can help increase the gratitude in your day. Verbalizing your appreciation for something such as a helpful grocery worker or a partner who brings your slippers in from the other room can make you more aware of these acts of kindness.
If you want to go one step further, start focusing on the person or emotion that the moment delivered. For example: When your partner hands you those slippers to keep your feet warm, you can think about how nice it is to have cozy toes or how thoughtful your partner was and actually acknowledge them with a heart-felt compliment in tandem with a “thank you.” Speaking your gratitude out loud makes that good feeling tangible.
According to an article at Harvard Health Publishing, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Live with gratitude
While the idea of a gratitude journal is not new, it is important. Writing down things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of the day can help you focus on the people and experiences that are important to you.
Seeing your own notes can remind you of the kindness and abundance in your life even when you’ve had a rough day. Research supports a connection between gratitude and well-being.
Being present in the moment is another way to increase gratitude. Concentrating on the positives in life and not dwelling on what you don’t have or are frustrated with can lead to a more grateful outlook. When you’re taking a walk, think about how pretty the sky is or appreciate that your body is moving in the fresh air.
Other ideas to increase gratitude include:
- Writing a thank-you note or email to express your appreciation of a person and their impact on you
- Mentally thanking someone. If circumstances don’t allow an in-person exchange, take a moment to give thanks quietly for someone who has helped you or touched you in a positive way
- Use prayer or meditation to focus on something you’re grateful for and name the specifics to make it even more powerful
A path to better health
Several research projects report that people who practice gratitude feel more optimistic and positive and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. According to a paper originally published in the Journal of Health Psychology, patients with chronic pain cataloged moderate to strong positive effects of gratitude.
An article at Mayo Clinic references a link between behaviors and biology. It reads: “Positive gestures benefit you by releasing oxytocin, a hormone that helps connect people. Some people call it the love hormone. Plus, you’ll also benefit the person on the other end of the gesture. After all, who doesn’t like to be thanked for their efforts or just for being who they are?”
This upcoming holiday season is a perfect time to add more gratitude to your life. Practice it as much as you can and see how it affects your day.
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