Cultivating Gratitude

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The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Studies prove that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions like a big raise at work or finding your car keys in the morning even though you ran out of coffee. Find the joy and gratitude in the little things that add texture to life. Like the smell of fall in the air or the feeling of the sun warming your eyelids.

Make a decision to be consciously more grateful. Below are just a few ways to help cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

Write a thank-you note

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of a person. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal

I love this – there are even gratitude apps available!  Make it a habit to write down the gifts you’ve received each day. Share them with a friend or encourage someone in a rough spot to stop and make a quick list of things they are grateful for. It can be as simple ‘I am thankful for this pillow to rest my head on after this exhausting day.’

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. If you are having a difficult time starting, challenge yourself to picking just five things, but certainly don’t limit yourself.

Pray

People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. Pray for acceptance of kindness from others, awe in rainbows and the little but amazing joys of life.

Meditate

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Just being present and accepting. Some people may focus on a word or idea, but you can also focus on what you’re grateful for at that specific time (a beautiful sunset, a pleasant sound, etc.).

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond hardships, loss, and/or depression, there are many more mundane circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. Don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Then share it.

 

What are you grateful for today? What made you smile today?

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