Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means this is the season of giving. When the holiday season arrives, people tend to be more generous, giving their closest friends and family gifts. With so much to be received in this time, gratitude may come easily. What about the rest of the year, though?
Finding gratitude during the season of giving can be extended to every day of the year. There are many ways to practice gratitude — and feel more fulfilled and appreciative of the life you’re living.
What Is Gratitude?
Before diving into the benefits of gratitude and how to be more grateful, you should understand what gratitude means. Gratitude both affirms goodness — there are good things you receive like gifts and benefits — and it acknowledges that other sources provide you with that goodness.
You recognize what you have and can pause and be thankful for it. The emotion can be sudden and brief, but it can also be cultivated throughout your life. If someone gives you a gift, that feeling of warmth you get is gratitude, and that same feeling can happen each day when you practice gratitude.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Learning how to be grateful has so many benefits. Here are just some of the benefits that come with practicing gratitude.
1. Improves Mental Health
One of the benefits of practicing gratitude that’s been proven repeatedly is that it improves your mental health. Gratitude reduces the risk of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse.
In a study by Emmons and McCullough, people were asked to journal what they were grateful for each day. Those who had journaled felt happier, healthier, and more determined. Even the family and friends of those people noticed that they were more positive.
2. Helps You Sleep Better
If you feel restless at night or can’t sleep, practicing gratitude before bed can help you sleep better at night. Some of the most sleep-deprived people are college students, who would benefit from appreciating their possessions and the people in their lives.
For two weeks, participants in a gratitude intervention wrote down what they were grateful for before going to bed. This both improved their sleep quality and reduced their blood pressure, which led to an enhanced life.
3. Strengthens Relationships
Stranger, family, friend, and partner relationships all get stronger when gratitude is introduced. By expressing gratitude to the people in your life, you can better work out problems, gain more social support, and see the positives even in the people you don’t like.
4. Boosts Optimism
Others can feel your positivity when you show gratitude, and it makes you think more positively. The more you think about all that you have and are grateful for it, the more you can find things to be appreciative of.
Even with the hardships in your life, if you can find one thing to be grateful for, your optimism skyrockets.
5. Allows You to Find Meaning in Your Work
Besides your home life, when you’re grateful, you can find meaning in your work. When you find meaning in your career, you can be more productive, and you’ll feel fulfilled in what you do. You can better apply your strengths and recognize that your hard work is paying off.
Each and every area of your life can be focused on gratitude. Whether you want to build better relationships with your friends, have a more favorable work life, grow spiritually, or focus on your self-care and mental health, practicing gratitude can help.
How to Practice Gratitude in Your Own Life
If you want to practice gratitude and reap all the benefits of becoming a more grateful person, look no further. It takes time to develop a gracious mindset, but once you start finding things in your life that you can be grateful for, the ball just keeps rolling.
Here are some ways you can begin practicing gratitude to start your life of thankfulness, both in the holiday season and well beyond.
Start your gratitude journey by journaling. Take five minutes every-other-day and write down all you are thankful for. It can be something from your past or something from that day. Did you see a bird outside your window that made you happy? Write it down. Did someone compliment your outfit? Write that down, too.
You don’t have to write pages and pages every day. Once you start recognizing just how many things there are in your life, writing them down will become second nature, and you’ll burst with gratitude.
Embrace the Negative
Just because you want to have a grateful perspective does not mean you have to shun negativity. If you experience a setback in your life, let it run its course. Then, look back on it and take away the good. Perhaps getting laid off from your job led you to your dream career.
It’s challenging to avoid negativity, but embracing the negative allows you to prepare for future obstacles, and you can have a more positive outlook on difficult circumstances.
Focus on the People in Your Life
One of the best aspects of gratitude is that sources outside of yourself are the reason for the goodness in your life. Spend time with the people who mean the most to you, and thank them for being by your side.
You can get caught up in things that are going on in your life, so take a moment each day to focus your attention on other people and their happiness.
If you want to focus on people not in a direct relationship with you, try volunteering. You can meet and help others in need, which will humble you and make you all the more grateful for what you have.
You don’t have to run a marathon to practice gratitude, but you can start by going for a walk every day. When you take time each day to exercise, your mind clears, and your stress levels decline — both of which set you up for gratitude.
The opposite is also true. When you’re thankful, you’ll want to exercise, and you’ll have a healthier mind and body because of it.
Don’t Neglect the Small Things
Even the most ordinary things deserve thanks. Maybe you had a few extra minutes in the morning to finish your coffee, or maybe your favorite coworker saved a seat next to her for the afternoon meeting.
When you can appreciate the simple things, you’ll have an easier time paying it forward as well.
Be Grateful Every Day
Every moment of every day, you have a chance to be grateful for something. Think of it this way — what if everything you had was taken away from you except the things you said you were thankful for today?
Now, during the season of giving, is the best time to begin finding gratitude in your daily life. What are you grateful for today?
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About the Author: Ginger Abbot is a lifestyle and learning writer who talks about mental health, career development and personal growth. Read more of her work on Classrooms, where she serves as Editor and contributing writer.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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