Giving thanks will improve your health.
Did you know that gratitude will not only increase your joy in life, but will actually limit your stress response and may even enhance your immune function! Studies show that gratitude is a habit, just like flossing, so make a conscious choice to actively express gratitude today!
Here are a few tips for practicing gratitude:
Keep a gratitude journal – one of the most effective ways to cultivate appreciation is to write it down. Keep a journal and before bed write down five things that made you happy or thankful that day. A recent study showed that people who make a simple daily list of what they are thankful for are 25% happier, exercise 33% more each week, and sleep a half hour more each night. Every evening replay your day, recalling the kind gestures, everyday pleasures and positive interactions that filled it. Do this every day and soon it will become habit and you will reap the rewards of grateful living! This can also be a good time to meditate or prepare for the next day.
Express yourself – it’s contagious if you share your thankful heart with those around you! Be specific and consider mailing or delivering a handwritten note of thanks or other expression of gratefulness. Make a habit of thanking those who serve you each day, but often go unnoticed – the mailman, a waiter/waitress, the supermarket checkout clerk, your dog sitter, a crossing guard, etc.
See a bigger picture – grateful people spot the positive in every situation without denying the hurt and pain they feel. Being grateful is an experience! You may be having trouble at work, or with finances, or with a child or spouse, but there is always something good, or something to be learned in the midst of struggle. Practice seeing the additional blessings that can so easily be missed – there really are always blessings to be found.
Celebrate Thanksgiving every day – Many families do a round of thanksgiving at the dinner table each night. Some families have a special box into which we drop notes of gratitude. At the end of the year, you can read these notes together in order to remind you of all the good things life has brought to you. Reading old notes from previous years is a great reminder of blessings that you would have otherwise forgotten. Some pray at mealtime to remind themselves of simple provisions that we often take for granted. It also serves to connect family members and deepen relationships.