The Benefits of Gratitude (And to Practice It Daily)
"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily." Gerald Good
It can’t be that easy, can it? For many us, it can be. After all, gratitude has been found to:
Make us happier by improving our health, emotions, personality, and relationships.
Make us nicer and more trusting, social, and appreciative.
Improve our careers by increasing productivity and decision making.
Strengthens our emotions and develops our personalities.
Increases self-esteem, resilience, and goal achievement.
Improves sleep and makes us want to exercise.
More specifically, research conducted by Joel Wong, Ph.D. and Joshua Brown, Ph.D., found that gratitude comes with psychological benefits like unshackling us from toxic relationships and being more motivated to “pay it forward.” Their findings also suggest “that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.”
While there’s no denying that gratitude is beneficial to our overall well-being, here are some simple ways to start incorporating into your daily life.
“Just like when starting anything new, practicing gratitude is most effective when you start small. Instead of trying to change your entire mindset in a single day, focus on finding one tiny thing that you appreciate between the time you wake up in the morning and wind down for bed at night,” recommends Krista Gray on Shine. “This could be as simple as an awesome quality in a friend or co-worker, an afternoon snack that hits the spot, nice weather, or your favorite song on the radio at the perfect time.”
“Make it a point to be fully present during your moment of appreciation, fully taking in what you love about what’s in front of you and why you enjoy it,” adds Gray. “Once you start honing in on the little details you missed before, you’ll begin to notice more and more greatness around you — just like magic!”
“Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for,” Janet Miller writes in Forbes. “The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every session.”
After just eight weeks of gratitude practice most people start “showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness.”
Write in a gratitude journal.
This is where you simply write down the things that you’re grateful for. While this is pretty straight forward, to get the most psychological rewards from a gratitude journal, research suggests that you:
Make the decision to become happier and more grateful.
Describe in detail a particular thing instead of just a lengthy and superficial list.
Focus more on people and not things.
Think about what your life would be without certain blessings.
Record the things that were unexpected.
Write occasional, like once or twice a week.
Other ways to practice gratitude.
Once you’ve gotten started with gratitude, here are some other simple ways that you can make this a daily habit:
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Embrace challenges and learn from your mistakes.
Tell someone how much you appreciate them.
Volunteer and donate.
Spend quality time with the people you love.
Go outside and notice how beautiful nature is.
Write a kind review and say “thank you” to the things usually taken for granted.
Avoid negativity like gossip or watching the news.
Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t.
Surround yourself with inspirational books, quotes, and videos.