Giving thanks is beautifully life-affirming. And it’s remarkably beneficial for your health and well-being. So it’s wonderful that the U.S. has a holiday to remind us how important it is to practice gratitude. But we could all benefit greatly from giving thanks more often than one day a year. Here are 10 simple ways to bring gratitude into your everyday life.
Having a positive mindset is a stunningly powerful thing. Life-changing, even.
An excellent way to maintain a positive outlook is by practicing the art of being thankful.
By taking the time to regularly recognize and be thankful for what is valuable and meaningful to you, you can significantly improve your overall health.
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Gratitude
Practicing thanksgiving has more benefits for you than you may realize.
So what can you gain if you practice gratitude regularly?
Studies have shown that being thankful more often can help you:
- Increase your longevity
- Have more energy and vitality
- Improve your quality of sleep
- Relieve physical aches and pains
- Reduce your negative emotions
- Raise your self-esteem
- Strengthen your relationships
- Become more patient
- Improve your mental health, and
- Increase your happiness
On the other hand, a negative outlook on life can actually be harmful to your health.
A growing body of research is showing that negative thinking can increase the risk of heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, disability, and immune and inflammatory conditions.
How To Practice Gratitude Every Day
In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving. On this holiday, we often express gratitude and celebrate the things we’re thankful for.
But you can give thanks more often — not only once a year while gathered with relatives around a table of food.
Below are 10 ways you can practice gratitude in your everyday life:
1. Give Thanks at Meals
Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to remember what makes you feel thankful.
Anytime you sit down to a meal you can take a moment to invite everyone to say one thing they’re grateful for. Even if you eat a meal alone, you can take a moment to give thanks.
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Take time to write down at least three things you’re thankful for every day. You may want to keep a specific journal just for this purpose.
Over time, you’ll be able to go back and look at how things have changed over the months and years — through the lens of gratitude.
So start now and write down good times and good things, big or small. (And, yes, there’s an app to help you.)
3. Share the Love
Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner, or friend something you appreciate about them every day. It can be as simple as recognizing something nice they’ve done for you, noticing a characteristic that makes them special, or giving them a compliment.
Something else you can do is to make it a nightly routine to share a high point of the day with another person. For an extra challenge, try turning a low of the day into a high by thinking about what you learned from the experience or something good that came out of it.
Studies have shown that meditation can positively change your brain chemistry, making you more compassionate toward others and better able to cope with stress. You can even find gratitude meditations.
If you’re new to meditation, start by finding a quiet space without distractions and clearing your mind, or following your breath, for five to 10 minutes per day. Yoga can be a more active form of meditation, incorporating the act of focusing your mind into movements.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Showing gratitude toward yourself is important, too!
Be thankful for everything your body and mind do for you. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can also improve your self-care.
Try standing in front of the bathroom mirror and saying three things you love about yourself. Or write positive affirmations on sticky notes and place them somewhere you can see them and repeat them each morning.
6. Share Gratitude Cards with Others
This practice is a simple exercise done in the company of others, no matter how big or small the group is. All you need is one notecard per person.
At a table, have each person write the name of the person to their left on the top of their card. Underneath their name, they will then write one thing they are thankful for about that person. The cards are then each passed one person to the right, so the next person can add something to the list. Once all of the cards have made their way around the table, each person will end with their own card. It can be fun to take turns reading everyone’s thankful list and sharing the love.
7. Create a Vision Board
Vision boards are like collages. They can increase feelings of gratitude.
One way to approach a vision board is by thinking about your ideal life and things you’d like to accomplish, like where you want to live or what career you’d like to have.
Another approach is to make a vision board that’s all about the people and things you’re grateful for already having. This could include family and friends, proud accomplishments, possessions, and positive quotes.
Hang your vision board somewhere you can look at it every day as a reminder of the things that make you feel grateful for both today and the future.
8. Fill a Gratitude Jar
A gratitude jar can be filled and then reflected on at the end of the year or during times when you need a reminder of all the good things in your life.
Whenever something positive happens, or you want to acknowledge something you’re thankful for, write it down and put it in a jar. You may be surprised at how quickly it fills up.
9. Go for a Gratitude Walk
In today’s busy world, sometimes we forget to take a moment and enjoy the beautiful things Mother Nature offers us every day.
Nature can actually relieve stress and support mental health. These effects have been observed when people interact with any kind of outdoor green space, from lush forests to local soccer fields.
I challenge you to escape to the outdoors, whether it’s for a few minutes on your lunch break or enjoying nature for an entire weekend. Go on a walk, observe and pay attention to everything around you, and express gratitude for the things you’re seeing and experiencing. Practice being grateful for the life you have and this amazing planet we live on.
10. Write Thank-You Notes
When you express gratitude for others, you can improve more than your own mood.
Research shows that thanking others is good for your mental health and helps you have a more positive outlook on life. Furthermore, we often underestimate how good the recipients of a thank-you note actually feel when they receive it.
Think about people in your life who have made a positive impact. This could be a close friend, a waiter at a restaurant, a cashier at the grocery store, your child’s teacher — or even a spouse.
So write a thank you note and send it off into the world to brighten someone’s day.
Gratitude Is a Practice You Can Cultivate to Improve Your Life and the Lives of People Around You
Brené Brown, a research professor and storyteller, says, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness — it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”
The world gives us enough reasons to be worried and disappointed. When you consciously choose to give thanks, you can change your own life and the lives of those around you in positive ways.
Gratitude helps spread hope into the world. At Food Revolution Network, we’re grateful for you every day. Thank you for all you do to contribute to health in your life and on our planet.
Tell us in the comments:
How and when do you practice gratitude?