Gratitude could easily be considered the official theme of November. It even has an entire holiday devoted to giving thanks. But gratitude shouldn’t be confined to a single month during the end of autumn. Feeling and showing appreciation regularly is good for your health year-round.
Multiple studies show that practicing gratitude improves your physical, emotional and mental health. Thankfulness increases your ability to feel empathy and reduces feelings of aggression. It helps you sleep better, which brings a host of health benefits. Gratitude leaves you feeling stronger with the resilience to cope with life’s inevitable challenges.
Feeling grateful on a daily basis can:
- Boost your ability to learn and make good decisions.
- Create a chain reaction of positive emotions that increases with continued practice.
- Lead to more positive interactions with others when you express appreciation for their efforts.
- Provide balance by reminding yourself of good experiences during bad times in your life.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
The first step to upping your gratitude quotient is recognizing the positive aspects of your life. Take time to think back on your day and celebrate even the smallest victory. Before too long, you'll start noticing more and more reasons to say “thank you.”
These tips from the National Institutes of Health can help you grow your gratitude:
- Keep a record of the things you’re grateful for. Update the list regularly through a gratitude journal, phone app, notes or whatever method is convenient for you to maintain.
- Reach out and express your gratitude to others. Write a letter that explains why you’re thankful for someone. Or visit in person and tell them face-to-face. It’ll make you both feel good.
- Reflect on the positive things that occurred as you went about your day.
- Relive and reinforce positive moments by telling others about events and memories that make you smile.
- Remain present and fully experience positive moments as they occur.
Count Your Blessings
Experiencing and expressing gratitude involves more than putting #blessed on all your social media posts. It includes acknowledgment and appreciation for the tangible and intangible things you are given.
Small efforts reap large rewards. Jot down the day’s highlights on Post-it notes or start a gratitude journal. Begin a new dinner tradition that gives everyone at the table a chance to list their day's best features. End your day with prayer or a few moments of thankful reflection.
Gratitude can become a habit if you make it a point to remain thankful. When you regularly count your blessings, you'll notice they increase over time. And your emotional, mental and physical health will benefit greatly.
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