Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I'm very excited to celebrate with family! What better week to talk about gratitude? Practicing gratitude is a simple, easy thing to do that takes only minutes per day and can make a big difference in your mood, happiness and outlook on life. So if your family has the tradition to go around the table and say what you're thankful for why not continue that and make it daily habit? Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of gratitude and for ideas on how to start!
"It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy"
How Gratitude WorksStudies done on the science of gratitude have found that it stimulates areas in our brain that produce feelings of pleasure, regulate stress and that are involved in social connections. Those who practice tend to feel better physically, experience increased happiness, and have a more optimistic outlook on life. You may even sleep better, be more likely to exercise and have better relationships with those around you! Scientists believe gratitude works because it makes you focus on positive emotions and shifts your attention away from negative emotions. However, it can work even if you're feeling negative because your brain doesn't know the difference between pretending to feel positive and when you're truly feeling this way. It will process the emotions as happiness either way. So "fake it till you make it" especially if you are just starting out and it feels forced.
It can take some time for you to feel the benefits of this practice so stay with it! It becomes self-perpetuating. The more you practice gratitude, the easier it becomes to notice the positive things in life. You don't have to change how you live; you just have to pay attention to what you have. You may be surprised to find that you have a lot to feel grateful for right now!
Start A Gratitude Journal Now!There are many ways you can start practicing gratitude. Starting is easy and you don't need anything special. Write down anything no matter how small it seems. You could be grateful for something as small as a cup of hot coffee on a cold day or something as big as a promotion at work. It doesn't matter what you're grateful for as long as you think about it and write it down. Try to be specific about what you're thankful for to keep it interesting and increase the likelihood you'll stick with it. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Start by just showing appreciation to those around you. Let others know you appreciate them by telling them or writing a letter. Write a letter or email to someone who has had a positive impact on your life and send it to them. They will be so happy you did!
Start a journal and write in it every morning or evening. You can use your own journal or print off free gratitude journal pages here or here. If you prefer something for your phone or tablet try out one of my favorite apps: Zest. It's free, easy to use and you can set up reminders to keep you journaling every day. An added benefit to this app is getting to see 5 random, anonymous entries from others around the world. I've noticed we're all grateful for many of the same things like love, family, friendship, money, food, our pets, and the kindness of strangers.
Don't want to keep a journal? Try writing what you're thankful for on a piece of paper and keep a gratitude jar instead.
Whatever method you choose I hope you really do try this out! It's such a simple way to feel happier and improve overall well-being.
I wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
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Brandt, A. (2018, July 30). Science Proves That Gratitude Is Key to Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/201807/science-proves-gratitude-is-key-well-being
Carpenter, Derrick. “The Science Behind Gratitude (and How It Can Change Your Life).” Happify.com, www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude/.
Wong, J., & Brown, J. (2017, June 6). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain
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