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What would you say if I told you there was a revolutionary treatment available that can reduce pain, improve mood, transform sleep, prevent disease, and make you feel better about yourself — and it’s on the market at no cost to you?
The truth is these aren’t even half of all the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of practicing daily gratitude, which you can do with no investment except a few minutes of your day. Let’s explore this further.
How Science Says More Gratitude Is Good for Us
Gratitude is good for your body and soul. In fact, one study after another has confirmed the benefits of practicing daily gratitude, which include:
- An improved sense of optimism about life
- Increased frequency of physical activity/exercise
- Fewer visits to the doctor’s office
- Increased happiness scores
- Improved physical health with fewer aches and pains
- Reduced negative emotions like envy, frustration, resentment, and regret
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- Better sleep at night
- Better self-esteem
- Reduced stress levels and decreased risk of PTSD after experiencing trauma
Additionally, expressing gratitude has a dramatic impact on those around you. Studies show that taking time to express gratitude for your partner can improve your relationship and ability to work through problems. Likewise, employees work hardest when their leaders express gratitude often.
It’s tough to argue with evidence: taking a little time for more gratitude should undoubtedly be incorporated into our daily lives. But life is busy. And it’s easy to get crabby and frustrated. And what is there to be grateful for, anyway?
I’m eager to share the tips and tricks I use to stay mindful and grateful every day — despite the circumstances I find myself in. Let’s get started.
Tip #1: Create a Master Gratitude List
Take an hour to create a list of the things for which you’re most grateful. The items on your list should encompass all areas of your life: family, health, wealth, career, and spirituality.
No item is too small. In fact, finding gratitude for the smallest details in life can build resilience and strength of spirit that’s difficult to break. A new bud on your favorite tree, flannel sheets during a winter snow, or a meaningful exchange with a stranger can bring substantial joy if you take the time to recognize the blessing.
Your Action: Grab a notebook and create a master list of blessings. This can help you learn how to think about gratitude and stay grateful on the hardest days.
Tip #2: Start Your Day with Gratitude
Take time soon after you wake each morning to recognize what makes it so worth getting out of bed. Perhaps the sun is shining and warm, a magical winter snow is settling down, a peaceful toddler is nestled in your covers, or you woke without a single ache.
Remember, some days it’s harder than others to find things to be grateful for, but there is always something if you dig deep. I rarely struggle to find gratitude, but when I do, I remember the suffering that exists in the world. I consider my worst moment and begin to realize how far I am from the hopelessness I felt then, and I begin to feel more and more grateful as I explore what is in comparison to what could be. Sometimes I reference my “master list” from tip #1 and find that I have overlooked many blessings.
Your Action: As you identify reasons to be grateful, take note. Journal three to five things you’re grateful for every morning to start your day on the right foot and activate the part of your brain that keeps you positive and productive the rest of the day.
Tip #3: Be Present in the Moment
Life is busier than it’s ever been, and regardless of your age or demographics, it’s likely that you’re pulled in multiple directions every day. For this reason, focusing is harder than it’s ever been, too, which means you can go through the motions of life without every truly experiencing anything.
To be truly present in the moment, you must experience that moment with all your senses. What do you feel against your skin? What do you hear? Are there any subtle sounds in the background that are easy to miss? What do you see, taste, and smell?
Being present gives you much to be grateful for as sensory experiences are a gift in and of themselves. When you focus on your senses, it’s almost impossible to let your mind run through the bills that are due, the chores that need done, or the other worries and burdens of daily life. You truly get to experience the moment.
Your Action: Practice becoming present by setting aside a few minutes to consciously catalog what all your senses are taking in. Eat your lunch in the park, sit by an open window, or find an empty room in your house. You may find it works best to write all your observations in a journal entry.
Tip #4: Circle Back to Gratitude
Before you crawl into bed for the night, circle back to reflect on your day. Schedule ten minutes into your bedtime routine to journal and reflect. Ask yourself:
- What did I love most about today?
- How do I feel?
- Which opportunities did I seize to live in the moment?
- Did I recognize my blessings right away? Was I ever distracted by negative thoughts and complaints? What was effective in redirecting my thoughts?
The Happier Mind Journal is designed to support getting more gratitude into your daily life. It gives you the prompts and space you need to commit to gratitude and then measure your progress and the results of that progress in your daily life. You can journal in any format that drives you toward your goal, but using a consistent structure over time helps you develop a habit — and habits help you develop a lifestyle that supports your goals.