Wellness Warriors, today, I’m sending you a positive attitude wish, encouraging you to be committed to gratitude. It leads to becoming the best version of you!
But life will not wait for you to learn this. Despite how things might be for you during this pandemic, there are things to be grateful for. And it’s essential for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being to practice gratitude!
Greek philosopher, Aristotle, argued that we become what we habitually do. By changing our habits, we can become more grateful human beings.
So, if we spend our days replaying on all that has gone wrong and how bleak the future may seem, we can actually think ourselves into a negative mindset, filled with misery, resentment, and even depression. But we can also make the choice to become the kind of people who seek out, recognize, and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for.
The Benefits of Living a Life of Gratitude
Having an attitude of gratitude has benefits that go far beyond the immediate moment. Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthier and happier, exhibiting lower levels of stress and depression, coping better with adversity, and even sleeping better. Not surprisingly, they also tend to be more satisfied with life.
Perhaps when we are more focused on the good things we enjoy in life, we have more to live for and tend to take better care of ourselves and each other. In fact, an experiment that asked participants to write and deliver thank-you notes found large increases in reported levels of happiness, a benefit that lasted for an entire month.
Also, every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine (known as the feel-good neurotransmitter) is released in the brain. When a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine is released, thus making a connection between the behavior and feeling good. The more a person practices gratitude, the more often dopamine is released.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
One easy way to practice gratitude is to create a gratitude list. From Oprah Winfrey to Dr. Oz, the powers of gratitude lists are widely hailed. If you never tried, I highly recommend you do. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but many studies have shown that taking time every day to acknowledge the things that make you grateful increases optimism, lowers stress, and increases feelings of joy and contentment.
A simple approach is to keep a small notebook next to your bed, write the date, and jot a few notes about what was good and positive in your day. Maybe it was the greeting the barista gave you in the morning, a beautiful sky, a call from your grandkids, or an e-mail from a happy client. Small or large, finding just a few things you’re grateful for can shift your mood and perspective.
Another simple yet powerful way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. On its most basic level, keeping a gratitude journal involves making a list of the things you are grateful for that day, which makes it similar to the gratitude list just mentioned, but I encourage you to note how these wonderful things made you feel.
Keeping a journal has been shown to increase positivity, improve self-esteem, helps you sleep better, be happier, and reduces your stress level—all tremendous benefits. The great thing is that recording your gratitude in a journal an easy habit to form, and after a while, you have an inspiring collection of material to look back on when you are in need of a pick-me-up.
Other Quick-and-Easy Ways
Here are a few other things we can do to embrace gratitude:
- Start the day acknowledging three things you’re grateful for before you leave the bedroom in the morning.
- Slowdown from time to time throughout the day to take it all in.
- Try to appreciate the moment you are in—make every moment count.
- Meditate on gratitude.
- Let people know how much you appreciate them.
- Any time you get the opportunity to give back, do what you can.
- Try to see the good in every day.
- At the end of the day, “count your blessings” by thinking of two or three things for which you’re grateful.
- Send a thank-you card or a handwritten note of appreciation to someone you’re grateful for.
One last tip about practicing gratitude: watch out for being grateful for things that make you feel better off (or better) than others. I believe this kind of thinking can foster envy, jealousy, and other negative—and unhealthy—emotions.
So come on, Wellness Warriors, let’s put this into practice every day! Make gratitude a way of life, and by developing the simple habit of counting our blessings, we can enhance the degree to which we are truly blessed.
Make gratitude a way of life!