Thanksgiving: It’s the time of year to celebrate what we’re thankful for. However, we don’t have to relegate our gratitude to one day a year. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” in your everyday is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. The benefits of a regular gratitude practice are nearly endless, but here are five to consider:
1) Gratitude improves your health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check ups with their doctors (which can contribute to longevity). In addition, gratitude reduces many toxic emotions, ranging from envy, comparison and resentment, to frustration and regret. It’s not surprising, then, that being grateful increases happiness and reduces depression.
2) A regular gratitude practice improves your ability to cope. Learning to see the good in your life even when hard times come is a powerful coping strategy.
3) Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend a few minutes before bed jotting down a few grateful sentiments and you may fall asleep easier, along with sleeping better and longer.
4) Gratitude makes you a more effective manager. Whether you’re managing a team at work or at home, gratitude can improve your ability to lead. Effective management requires many skills. While criticism and judgement come all too easily for most, the ability to express gratitude and praise is often lacking. Timely, sincere, specific praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Expressions of gratitude can be highly motivating, while criticism can be de-motivating. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and see what you can do.
5) Gratitude feels good – surprise, surprise – gratitude simply feels good, and when you feel good you’re more likely to do a whole host of other things.
Not sure where to start your gratitude practice? Here are a couple of ideas:
Say thanks. Send a text. Write an email or compose a hand-written letter. Best of all: Say it face-to-face. Tell someone “thank you” from the heart today and see how good it makes you feel.
Keep a gratitude journal. Every evening before bed, jot down three to five things that you are grateful for. They can be big things or simple ones – the key is that they’re different every day.
Go forth, and be grateful.