With Thanksgiving just a month away, I have been doing a lot of thinking about gratitude. This time of year, we are all called to take inventory of our lives + show thankfulness. As a believer that we shouldn’t do things just because we “should” do them, I wanted to do a deeper dive into the importance of gratitude + the benefits a daily gratitude practice could add to our lives.
Antidotally speaking, I, and many others, have practiced gratitude daily using the Start Today Journal. I have listed it as a way to improve your mood + a healthy habit to adopt. Before we dig down into why that is, I want to explore what this concept truly is.
What is Gratitude?
According to Psychology Today, “Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has.” That explanation is simple enough. Gratitude is a social emotion that (sometimes) generates spontaneously + fills us with warm fuzzies. It is a signal to ourselves and/or others that we appreciate what we have been given both tangibly + intangibly. Not only does this emotion affect us, but our feeling it can also positively affect others as well.
The Benefits and Importance of Gratitude
The obvious benefit of gratitude is that feeling thankful can make us feel happy + positive. Showing gratitude to others can lead them to feel appreciative + grateful themselves. It is a particularly contagious emotion. The importance of gratitude isn’t just in its ability to affect our relationships with others, gratefulness also has powerful positive mental + physical benefits such as:
- Strengthened immune systems
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased optimism
- Reduced feelings of isolation
- Decreased stress
- More drive to do positive activities like exercising + social connecting
These are far from all the benefits of gratitude, but they are all pretty motivating for me to want to cultivate a daily gratitude practice.
How to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice
Since it is an emotion, it may seem like gratitude cannot be manufactured, but it actually can! There are simple things you can do every day to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.
Keep a gratitude journal. Take time out of your day to write down at least three things you are grateful for that happened. They can be as small as “seeing a butterfly” to booking my Italian vacation. The point is to find blessings that happened to you that day + show gratitude towards them. This will help train your mind to be on the lookout for good.
Thank someone daily. Whether it is a thank you note, comment on a receipt, or passing remark, tell someone every day that you appreciate them. Not only will that may you feel better, but it might just make their day, too. Another way to spread gratitude is to write more thank you notes, something I think we could all do a bit more of.
Meditate. Meditation, prayer, and mindfulness are all excellent times + opportunities to focus on your present blessings + connect with something greater than yourself.
Trying one of all of these methods every day is sure to bring more positivity + happiness into your life.