Have you been hearing the word “gratitude” a lot? Do you really know what it means? If so, do you practice it? Does it even help? Short answer: Yes! There are so many psychological benefits to practicing gratitude. To practice gratitude, you are acknowledging and reflecting on what you are thankful for. Scientists have shown that practicing gratitude regularly can literally create changes in your brain to boost mood and shift perspective. Gratitude has been shown to positively impact relationships and overall success in life. Below are different ways to practice gratitude and improve overall health and mood.
Write one to three things you are grateful for at the end of each day (relating to that day)
This one seems simple, but I want to challenge you to think about 1-3 instances that contributed to that specific day that made you feel good, peaceful, relieved, or happy. Examples might be: the sun shining in my window this morning while I drank my coffee, the kind customer service rep, a funny interaction with a loved one, or a cuddle from your sleepy pet. Be specific!
Write or journal about something that taught you a valuable lesson in the past week, year, or decade
This one is self-explanatory- writing about a valuable lesson or experience can help us reframe challenging situations into meaningful ones. An example might be to write about the loss of a job, and this allows you to pursue a more meaningful career path.
Write about one thing that makes you appreciate where you live
If you live in Chicago like me, the endless gray days in the winter can make it hard to connect with why I love living here so much. Writing about something you appreciate with regard to where you live can help you zoom out and remind you of the good things in your city. An example of this might be, I am grateful for the changing seasons and the cozy components Chicago winter can offer.
Write about what you are grateful for about yourself
I know, this one can sometimes be harder for people. Really connect with this one. Are you grateful for your body because it allows you to do things you love? Are you grateful for your kind heart, humility, or humor? Really dig deep and connect with yourself.
Write about a specific relationship that you are grateful for
This one can be a significant other, a caretaker, a coworker, friend, boss, anyone! This can be done many times as relationships shift and change. Practicing gratitude around relationships can increase the value of the relationship and overall satisfaction in your relationships. It can also increase connectivity.
The gratitude practices do not necessarily need to be written down- if you do not want to commit to writing, you can always go for a walk and mindfully reflect, close your eyes and imagine your gratitude, or meditate with the intention of gratitude. Your perspective and mood truly can shift when regularly practicing gratitude, so why not give it a try?
Article written by Ali Mayer-Morris