Every year at Thanksgiving as we gather with family and friends, we express our gratitude for various factors in our life. This is the season of gratefulness but practicing gratitude all year has tremendous benefits for our well-being. While you may feel that cultivating gratitude all year is a lot of work, it’s actually very easy.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
To start, choose a method that works for you. Below are several easy ways to start.
Start a Gratitude Journal
The traditional method is to write down three things which you are thankful for at the end of the day. Another method is to write them down as they happen throughout the day. You would be surprise how many times you feel grateful throughout the day and how good you feel throughout the day.
Another variation can involve the whole family. At the dinner table, have each family member explain what made them grateful that day. You would be surprise at how connected the family will feel by sharing stories of gratitude instead of complaining about their day.
Use Thank You Freely
Saying Thank You may seem self-explanatory but often in our busy lives we forget to say it. Everyone has untold stories in their lives that we know nothing about. Acknowledging a person by saying Thank You can provide that spark of light needed. Telling someone Thank You for a small act or for doing a good job, gives a feeling of well-being to the person and to you. It’s very simple but can have a tremendous impact on another person.
Write Out Thank You Notes
In this age of email, writing out a thank you note is a big deal. It means you’ve taken time to think about the person you’re thanking and adding a personal link to that person. The recipient will know you took time and effort to send a heartfelt thank you.
Reach Out to Someone Who Inspired You
Everyone has someone who has inspired or positively influenced them. If possible, write a letter or call them to tell them how much you appreciate them. If the person is no longer living, write a letter anyway. Just the act of writing that letter will influence your feeling of gratitude. Remember any small act can have ripples that reach into the future. Someone will some day tell you how much they appreciate your influence in their life.
Change Your Words
Everyone is stressed nowadays. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day stresses in your life, start looking at the positives. Instead of complaining about the pile of work you need to finish, tell yourself how grateful you are for your interesting job or your coworkers. Or if you’re running ragged taking your kids to practice, running errands and then going to a holiday party, tell yourself how thankful you are for your family and friends. Instead of looking at the negative, spin a positive thankful mindset. You’ll find that over time, it will feel natural and your life will be more enjoyable.
Benefits of Living a Grateful Life
Many studies have proven that gratitude provides various health benefits.
· Gratitude helps to relieve stress and to overcome trauma. Studies have shown that gratitude has helped with PTSD and for people who experience trauma, such as mass shooting, gratitude improved their resilience to recover.
· Gratitude improves psychological health. Be grateful replaces negative feeling like anger and resentment. Gratitude also increases happiness and reduces depression.
· Gratitude improves overall health. People who exhibit more gratitude have less aches and pain and improved physical health.
· Gratitude improves your sleep. Focusing on gratitude doesn’t leave much room for worrying. Many people don’t sleep well because they’re focusing on problems or what may happen. Instead focus on gratitude and you’ll sleep soundly.
· Gratitude improves self-esteem. By focusing on being thankful for others and the accomplishments of others, you improve your own self-esteem by not comparing yourself to them.
· Gratitude improves your connection to others. Gratitude opens your heart to others and helps you build stronger relationships, especially with new acquaintances. People are more likely to be attracted to you and your positive feelings.