5 Ways You Can Regularly Practice Gratitude
From dealing with car problems to tackling work projects, it can be easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day happenings of life. Often, we start to coast through each day with more focus on the negatives than the positives.
But by practicing gratitude, we can lead more fulfilling lives. Research has shown that gratitude improves physical health, psychological health, mental strength, self-esteem, and sleep. It also increases empathy, reduces aggression, and lowers stress.
The holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, are a great time to take a step back and show gratitude. You might consider creating a habit of expressing gratitude as well. Here are five ways you can do exactly that.
1. Start a Daily Gratitude Journal
A daily gratitude journal is a great way for you to remain mindful of the good in your life. You can start or end each day by listing a few things you’re grateful for. They could be general things, such as your family, or things specific to that day, such as praise your boss gave you for an idea. You could also jot down seemingly small things as well, such as a delicious slice of pie you had for breakfast.
Any standard notebook will do. There are also specific gratitude-focused journals you can purchase, such as this one. If journals aren’t your thing, you could use sticky notes instead.
2. Tell People You Appreciate Them
By telling those in your life how much you appreciate them, and why you appreciate them, you’ll not only make them feel good, but you’ll make yourself feel good. This doesn’t have to be restricted to people you’re super close to, either. For example, if you’re getting takeout, taking five seconds to thank the delivery person can brighten their day.
You can tell people you appreciate them by writing and sending thank you cards, calling, texting, and, depending on the circumstances, saying so in-person.
3. Give Back to Others
In addition to helping others, giving back can improve your health and happiness.
There are plenty of ways you can pay it forward. You can donate items or money, match donations, volunteer your time, and put your skills to use. Giving back doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process, either. You can incorporate giving back in your daily life by doing things such as complimenting someone or helping neighbors with small tasks.
4. Stop Complaining
Complaining is bad for your mood and the moods of those around you. Research has shown that it’s also bad for your mental and physical health.
When you don’t spend time complaining, you free up emotional and mental energy for positive alternatives. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect anyone to permanently cease complaining. But even taking a small break, for say, 24 hours, can help.
5. Find the Positives in Challenges
When you’re faced with an obstacle in life, it’s natural to focus on the negatives and worry about how you’ll ever make it to the other side of the problem.
However, by practicing positive thinking, you can better navigate bad situations. For example, say your work responsibilities shift to an area you’re not experienced in. Rather than fixating on your lack of experience, you can view the change as an opportunity to learn new skills. As the Mayo Clinic points out, positive thinking “doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.”