In our relentless pursuit of more – more wealth, more happiness, more likes – it’s all too easy to overlook the blessings we already have. This is where the art of gratitude comes into play. It’s a grounding force in a world obsessed with the concept of “never enough.”
At a time of year rampant with consumerism and the culture of “more,” Happsy says 'tis the season for gratitude! But gratitude isn't just about saying “thank you.” Its effects run deeper, influencing our mental, emotional and even physical states in ways we might not expect. While we celebrate feeling thankful every November, the truth is that we can benefit in big ways from practicing gratitude year-round.
Here’s how to practice gratitude daily.
What is a gratitude practice?
A gratitude practice involves regularly acknowledging the things in your life for which you are thankful. It's a conscious habit of expressing appreciation for the big and small things alike – whether it’s feeling grateful for the smell of a fresh coffee or for the support of a loved one.
If you’re wondering how to practice gratitude, the key words above are “conscious” and “habit.” Whether you keep a gratitude journal, practice gratitude meditation or simply send thank-you texts, making an active effort to consider that which you’re grateful for shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present.
7 Benefits of practicing gratitude
Gratitude profoundly affects our psychological, emotional and bodily well-being in varied ways – here are a few.
1. Enhanced psychological health
Gratitude can offset toxic emotions you may be feeling, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret (and holiday stress, too!). Studies have shown that a gratitude practice increases happiness and reduces depression. It acts like an emotional filter, letting the positive flourish while keeping the negative at bay.
2. Physical health improvements
Surprisingly, being grateful can actually make you physically healthier. Those who engage in gratitude practices have been found to exercise more regularly, experience fewer aches and pains and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is a critical factor in longevity.
3. Better relationships
Saying “thank you” is not just good manners; it also serves to build and maintain social bonds. Acknowledging others’ contributions can lead to new opportunities and deepen existing relationships, both personal and professional.
4. Increased resilience
Gratitude has a profound impact on our ability to weather the storms of life. By valuing the good in our current circumstances, we can foster a mindset that helps us take on challenges without being overwhelmed. Resilience builds as we learn to appreciate our past struggles for the strength they have given us.
5. Enhanced empathy and reduced aggression
Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind. With a gratitude practice, individuals may experience a reduced desire to seek revenge and an increased tendency to engage in positive interactions.
6. Improved self-esteem
Regularly practicing gratitude can decrease social comparisons. Instead of becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – a major factor in reduced self-esteem – grateful individuals are able to appreciate others' accomplishments.
7. Boosted mental strength
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress but may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times – fosters resilience.
Gratitude can help you sleep, too!
Perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits is that gratitude can lead to better sleep. Spending just 15 minutes jotting down grateful sentiments before bed may help you sleep better and longer. This practice reduces sleep-disrupting anxiety by quieting the mind and easing the soul, setting the stage for a more restful night’s sleep.
How to practice gratitude daily
Starting a daily gratitude practice is a simple action that can transform your day-to-day life. Let's dive into some easy ways to make thankfulness part of your routine.
- Keep a gratitude journal: Write down three things for which you are grateful every day. These can range from the mundane to the magnificent.
- Gratitude meditation: Mindful meditation that focuses on gratitude can bring contentment and presence.
- Gratitude prompts: Feeling stuck? Search for prompts like “What made me smile today?” or “Who am I grateful for and why?”
- Gratitude visits or letters: Thank-you notes can not only boost your gratitude but also make someone else smile.
- Grateful reflection: Reflect on your day each night and think about the things and people for whom you are grateful.
Gratitude doesn't need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: sure, you might express gratitude after receiving your holiday bonus this year, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as that delicious piece of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner that you only get to have once a year.
The beauty of gratitude is that it can be simple, yet its ripple effects are profound – it can transform our daily experiences, relationships and even our night’s sleep. (And so can an organic mattress, by the way! Happsy sleepers are happier sleepers.)
Wondering how to practice gratitude in a more tangible way? Here are some holiday donation ideas for any budget!