Practicing Gratitude

Posted by Annie Keough on June 8, 2021

Gratitude is a simple and rewarding practice that can change your life, yet few people are aware of its advantages. Working gratitude into your life can start you on the path of noticing the good all around you.

Thinking about and saying the things you are thankful for does not have to be something reserved for Thanksgiving; gratitude can be practiced year-round. Here are some of the many advantages of leading a grateful life, as well as how to get started:

What Gratitude Can Do For You

Improves your mental health

A leading gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons has found through multiple studies that gratitude increases happiness and overall psychological well-being. It is also connected to lower rates of depression, reduced stress, and higher self-esteem.

By regularly practicing gratitude, you begin to appreciate what you bring to the table instead of focusing on what others are doing better than you. You also start to seek out things to be grateful for, which leads to increased mindfulness and allows you to stay present and alert.

Improves your physical health

Gratitude has the ability to improve not only your mental health but also your physical health. Lower blood pressure, fewer aches and pains, and enhanced immunity have all been reported by grateful people and those who practice gratitude in their life.

Jotting down a few things that you are grateful for before going to bed has shown to improve the quality and length of your sleep. Grateful people are also more inclined to look after their bodies and not miss doctor's appointments, resulting in a healthy physical state.

Shifts your focus to the positive

Focusing on the things in your life that you are grateful for changes the negative, comparative narrative in your head. By reframing that narrative, you begin to appreciate the things you have and have accomplished instead of concentrating on the things that others have. Shifting your negative internal voice to a positive and grateful one can be a challenge, but it is the most important step you can make in becoming a more appreciative person.

Creates a culture of harmony in life and the workplace

Being appreciative for what you have allows you to focus less on what others have. Practicing gratitude wards off feelings of envy, resentment, and other toxic emotions that can lead to an unhealthy work and living environment. Cultivating gratitude in your home and daily life can make you a better person and strengthen your existing and future relationships with people. It allows you to be more forgiving, compassionate, and outgoing in your everyday life.

Gratitude at work can increase productivity and motivation to do a good job. It is an effective non-monetary way to give recognition to employees that simply want to be appreciated. It also encourages helping behavior among staff that reduces job induced stress and can prevent burnout.

How to Practice Gratitude

Gratitude Journals

Gratitude journals can be as complex or simple as you like. Starting out by simply thinking of a list of things you are grateful for as soon as you wake up and before you go to bed can be the easiest way to work this practice into your routine. As your list begins to grow and you feel ready, start writing them down. A study in 2003 published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who kept a daily gratitude journal showed higher levels of enthusiasm, alertness, attentiveness, energy, and determination. These journals allow you to see what you want out of life and help you take the steps towards finding your purpose.

Writing about a happy experience encourages your brain to relive that event, making the exercise more enjoyable. The things on your list do not always have to be profound. They can be as simple as writing “family” or “eating a good dinner.”

Gratitude Jar

Gratitude jars are a less formal (but no less effective) way of documenting your thankfulness. Keep slips of paper next to your jar for quick access whenever you feel the need to write something down. A gratitude jar can serve as a visual representation of your growth on your gratitude journey. As the jar gets more and more filled, you are reminded about all of the good things you have in your life. On tough days you can go through the jar and see everything that you have to be grateful for.

Visual Gratitude Reminders

Getting started on your gratitude journey can be a difficult habit to incorporate into your routine. However, using gratitude “cues” can help you stay on track and reinforce your feelings of gratitude. Hang pictures of people or pets you love, post inspirational quotes or positive notes on your wall, or place objects that make you happy throughout your home. Collecting these cues allow you to showcase the things you are thankful for and remind you to regularly practice your gratitude exercises. To get the most out of this practice, place the objects in obvious places.

Gratitude Partner

Doing an activity with a partner makes you more likely to stick with that activity and hold each other accountable for your actions. Encourage a friend or family member to join in your gratitude practices with you. Set out a few minutes every day or every other day to express your gratitude to one another. Doing this with someone you know can help you bounce ideas off of one another and build upon the things they offer. They can also be there to remind you what you have to be thankful for when you run out of ideas.

It's not easy to change your entire outlook on life, but if you stick with it, you will see results. Check out these other gratitude exercises to begin your journey to gratitude today.


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