The benefits of counting your blessings
When it comes to cultivating gratitude, many of us intuitively know that it feels good to reflect on what we’re grateful for and to share our appreciation with others. Research also shows that practicing gratitude significantly improves our health and happiness. A study by Emmons and McCullogh (2003) split participants into three groups. They asked one group to write about things they were grateful for throughout their week, asked the second to write about hassles, and asked the third to write about neutral life events. After 10 weeks of this, the gratitude group reported higher levels of optimism and satisfaction with their lives, and even exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor compared to the other groups.
How to cultivate gratitude in your daily life
Looking for ways to incorporate gratitude into your life? Try some of these practices:
- List 3-5 things you are grateful for: To begin a gratitude journaling practice, start small and specific for the things you are grateful for in that very moment. Set aside some time each day or week to make your list. You can do so in a physical journal or have a running list on your phone or computer.
- Thank someone mentally: It only takes a moment to pause and mentally thank others for the big and small things they do for you and what you appreciate about them. Doing so helps you realize how much support and goodness there is around you. You can do this throughout the day or set aside some time at the end of the day to recount and say your thanks. This can be anything from a thank you to the stranger who held a door open to you, to a thank you for a friend’s continued presence in your life.
- Write a thank you note: When you’ve got the time, write down your thanks to someone in a note or card. This doesn’t have to be just for a gift or large event. Try writing thank you notes for the little acts of service and appreciations of those around you.
- Find a gratitude accountability buddy: Gratitude grows when we practice it regularly and when we share it with others. Find a family member or friend to exchange a text with each day or week about one thing you’re grateful for. If you want to expand from there, you can start a group thread to share with your community.
- Take a moment to appreciate yourself: It’s so important to remember to be kind to yourself- reflecting on your own inherent value and admirable qualities, and thank yourself for your kind intentions and actions.
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