How often do you practice gratitude?
There is a lot of information out there, nowadays, about the things that we should practice on a regular basis to contribute to our health and well-being. You’ve probably heard before that you should do your best to walk about 10,000 steps a day, or get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day. You probably know what your ideal weight should be, or maybe even your ideal body mass index (BMI). There’s a lot of research in our modern world about the practices that will help us sustain a healthy lifestyle. Most of that research, at least what’s published and gets attention by the media, focuses on diet and exercise. But what about practices and habits that promote your emotional and spiritual well-being?
There’s research on that, as well, but it doesn’t seem to get as much media attention. The most popular topic on this aspect of lifestyle is probably stress. We all know stress is a challenge in daily living, and we’re pretty receptive to finding new and different ways to relieve our stress. This opens the door for all kinds of different articles about the benefits of massage, acupuncture, yoga, and so on. These are all good things, and we support them, but since they get pretty well covered, we’re not going to focus on that here. Let’s move on.
There’s been a lot of media attention over the past few years on mindfulness. We’re glad to see this, and we love to promote the benefits of mindfulness with our clients, but again, since there is already a fair amount of attention going to that lately, we’re not focusing on mindfulness in this article.
In this week’s blog, we want to bring your attention to the value of gratitude. The benefits of gratitude are largely overlooked in our broader culture, but the benefits of living a lifestyle that includes the regular practice of gratitude can be huge. Gratitude could save your life.
It’s not hyperbole to make that claim. There are documented links between the practice of gratitude and lower rates of depression, as well as increased rates of health. Check out this article from Psychology Today that lists seven benefits of practicing gratitude. All of them are research-based. Or you can take some time and listen to this great TED Talk from Brother David Steindl-Rast.
Ready to Practice Gratitude?
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
- Write a thank-you note. Send a thank-you letter or email expressing your appreciation of some person’s impact on your life. For bonus credit, deliver and read it in person if you can. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month.
- Thank someone mentally. As a mental exercise, think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual. When you do this, really connect emotionally to that feeling of gratitude, as if they were there in person and you were sharing your loving energy with them.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day, sort of like you’re keeping an inventory of all the things you can be grateful about.
- GratiTuesday. Every Tuesday, place an extra emphasis throughout the day on reflecting on your blessings, recognizing what and who you are grateful for. We especially like to celebrate GratiTuesday using social media, posting our reflections publicly as a way to celebrate our blessings.
- Pray. Prayer is not just for asking for help; it’s also a way to cultivate gratitude.
- Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. This increases your ability to be present. Sit comfortably, follow your own breathing, and just think about anything in your life that is worth being grateful for. It can be really simple things like the weather that day, or a well-cooked meal that you enjoyed, or it can be more complex things like your relationships with others.