Everyone has heard how important gratitude is for overcoming fear, bringing more joy into our lives, reducing stress, healing, and so much more. Dr. Emmons of UC Davis and Joanna Hill, authors of “Words of Gratitude,” have concluded from their scientific research that “grateful people elicit more support from others, cope better, have better health, and are more socially adaptable.” As humans we are conditioned to focus on the negative for self-preserving reasons, but we can also recondition our thinking to a more positive outlook, and gratitude is one way to begin.
So why don’t we practice gratitude more often? Life’s fast pace and multiple distractions are certainly reasons. Writer Alexis de Tocqueville describes gratitude as “a habit of the heart.” We must take the time to listen to our heart and act upon it. If you don’t have a gratitude practice in place, you can begin one now, knowing that regularly and deliberately expressing appreciation and genuine thankfulness will improve your health and well-being.
Starting new habits can be fun and easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas to maintain a sense of gratitude in your everyday life.
- Start a gratitude journal and write in it first thing in the morning and/or at night before bed. Write down at least 5 things you are grateful for.
- Choose a consistent activity, like drinking water, and think of something you are grateful for every time you take a sip.
- Take a gratitude walk. Notice the beauty around you.
- Send a thank you/appreciation note to someone you’ve been thinking about. Do this once a week — or even once a day!
- Talk to your loved ones and pets and tell them how much they mean to you.
- Practice gratitude while cooking a meal. This adds lots of essential Vitamin L (love) to the food.
- Everyday write down something you are grateful for on a small piece of paper and place in a jar. Include other family members in this practice and take turns pulling a note out and reading it aloud before dinner or breakfast.
Last Thanksgiving my family did an activity where each of us told all the other members at the dinner table what we were grateful for about them. It was surprising what was said, and it made everyone feel so special and loved.These kind of exercises can bring everyone closer and provide positive and lasting memories.Start your own gratitude Thanksgiving tradition!
Gratitude is a feeling that comes from within — however, it is also a choice we make. While gratitude is a feeling and an also an attitude, we can express it by words or deeds, extending our time, gifts, and so many other ways. Our expression of gratitude creates an opening that invites other positive experiences into our lives.
May you find your grateful heart and be the light that leads others to wellness.