Practicing gratitude can help you get through stressful situations, improve your mood, and lead to a more meaningful life.
Studies show that people who make a habit of feeling grateful also sleep better, have lower blood pressure, recover from illness faster, and are less prone to depression and anxiety!
What is gratitude?
It’s the feeling you experience when you relish life’s little pleasures or affirm something positive that arises from outside yourself. Whether you feel grateful for a delicious piece of fruit, a blue sky, or someone else’s act of kindness, it doesn’t matter! Gratitude enables you to feel connected to other people and forces larger than yourself — even in the face of uncertainty and suffering.
So how do you start practicing daily gratitude? Here are 5 tips:
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Whether you put pen to paper or keep electronic notes in your smartphone, keeping a gratitude journal is a tried-and-true way to tap into this powerful feeling. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning — or last thing before bed — to write down the things you are grateful for that day. Even if you’ve had a bad day or a rough night’s sleep, there’s always something to be thankful for! Express gratitude for a lesson you learned (even a painful one), or for something as simple as having a bed to sleep in. (No time to keep a journal? Check out these journaling tips for busy people!)
Another way to feel grateful for the things and people in your life is to volunteer. Participate in a cleanup of a local park, serve food at a homeless shelter, or lend a hand to an elderly neighbor who lives alone. Giving back to your community, or helping people in need, enables you to take a step back and experience gratitude for things you may take for granted — things like warm food, a roof over your head, or the support of family and friends.
3. Express your gratitude
Don’t just feel gratitude — share it! Expressing thanks to the people around you increases your feelings of gratitude and can brighten someone else’s day in the process! Say “thank you” to your spouse for taking out the trash, to a coworker who made your job a little easier, or to the guy who held the elevator door for you. Want to take it a step further? Write a thank-you letter to a former teacher, a veteran, or your mail carrier, or write a positive review of a local business.
4. Make gratitude a family practice
Share the benefits of daily gratitude practice with your loved ones by making it a family routine. When you sit down to a meal, or during family activities, have everyone take a turn sharing what they’re grateful for that day. For those crazy nights when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table and the kids to soccer practice, keep a list of things you’re grateful for on the fridge that everyone can contribute to daily.
5. Practice mindfulness
As you go through your day, pause every now and then to appreciate the people and things around you. Feel the comforting warmth coming from your cup of tea, notice the flowering plants in your neighborhood during your morning walk, hug your child for a few extra seconds before sending them off to school, or feel thankful for the 30 seconds of quiet once they leave the house. Nothing is too small to feel grateful for!
By making gratitude a daily practice, you’ll feel better, improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and help make the world a happier place for the people around you!