Don’t get us wrong. We adore the food, family catch-ups and travel that often surround Thanksgiving, but sometimes we can forget what it’s really all about. Gratitude. And while nearly 50% of Europeans view gratitude as a positive, constructive emotion, we all could certainly use a little bit more of it in our lives.
1. Practicing gratitude actually makes you stronger emotionally. It lowers your risk of depression and improves your self-esteem and, even more impressively, it improves your ability to deal with trauma.
2. Practicing gratitude will bring you more joy than money or material things. Those who keep gratitude journals have been shown to have a 10% increase in subjective happiness. The most shocking bit? That’s apparently the same increase as you’d get if you doubled your income.
3. Practicing gratitude improves your professional life. When you have a gratitude practice, you will have a greater sense of professional success. When you express gratitude with colleagues, you become more trusting with each other and are more likely to work collaboratively. Articulated gratitude in the workplace has been shown to increase productivity by 50%!
4. Practicing gratitude boosts physical wellness. When you are grateful consistently, your immune system is strengthened, and your white blood cells increase, helping to fight diseases and decrease stress hormones like cortisol. It also helps to decrease your blood pressure and heart rate variability. So it’s good for your mind and your body.
5. Practicing gratitude promotes restful sleep. Turns out that gratitude also increases sleep quality, including having an easier time falling asleep, longer sleep duration and less feeling of exhaustion or grogginess the next day.
1. Make a gratitude habit. As with any new habit, consistency is key. Make the commitment to work on your gratitude practice for just a few minutes each day for a month. The more you put energy into finding things you’re grateful for, the more you will actually be grateful for.
2. Start a gratitude journal. This is probably the easiest and most concrete way to establish a gratitude practice. It is a simple, powerful and lovely way to shift your focus in life toward gratitude. Each evening before you go to bed, write down three things you’re grateful for, whether small things that have happened during the day or greater over-arching themes in your life. To avoid boredom with your journal, be specific! Rather than merely writing you’re grateful for your family, write down how you are so thankful for the peaceful moments you have in the morning with your partner before you both head to work because it gives a beautiful start to the day.
3. Share your gratitude. When you share and spread your gratitude with those you love and strangers alike, you will feel more joyful and grateful almost immediately.
4. Just like a smile, gratitude is contagious. One of the easiest ways to share your gratitude is to write thank you notes. These can be for that movie night your friend hosted a few weeks back or an interview. The sky is the limit!
5. Make use of gratitude reminders. This may sound silly, but physical reminders to be grateful can be powerful tools. Leave notes around your house that proudly declare “I am grateful” or set reminders on your phone to urge you to think about what you are grateful for.
6. Be gentle with yourself. For all the wonderful things you can say about having a gratitude practice, occasionally it can just feel impossible to express it in a particular moment. And you know what? That’s totally ok! Consistency may be important, but kindness toward yourself is even more so. If you can’t muster the energy one day, don’t worry about it; you’re not failing. In these moments, just reading through your earlier journal entries may spark positive feelings and inspire you to journal that day as well.