6 ways to make gratitude part of your everyday life
Each year Americans dedicate one day, Thanksgiving, to being thankful. But what about the other 364 days of the year? Research shows that people who take time to focus on gratitude each day have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, lower levels of loneliness, and higher levels of optimism.
Here are few things you can do regularly to get the benefits of being thankful:
- Keep a gratitude journal.
The most common gratitude technique is a keeping gratitude journal. Simply take a few minutes each day to write down three to five things that you are thankful for—from a pretty sunset to love from your family members. In a recent speech, Oprah Winfrey talked about keeping a gratitude journal, saying it “is the single most important thing I have ever done.”
- Write gratitude letters.
Write a letter of thanks to someone who has been a positive influence in your life. If possible, visit him or her and read the letter aloud. Or, pick one or two friends/family members each month, and send them a quick note to tell them why you’re grateful to have them in your life.
- Take a gratitude walk.
When you’re stressed or sad, take a gratitude walk. Stroll around your neighborhood, through a park, or around your office building. As you walk, breathe, pause and be grateful for the things around you, from the air that fills your lungs to the beauty of a tree or snowflake.
- Look for reasons to thank people every day.
Each day the people you see—from your spouse to the cashier at the grocery store—do things that make your life easier. Start noticing these little things, and thank people for them. Send a text to thank your spouse for emptying the dishwasher or tell the cashier how much you appreciate the tip about the two-for-one packs of strawberries. It’ll make your day—and theirs—happier.
- Don’t get mad, get grateful.
When someone makes you angry, take a few breaths and try to think of reasons to be grateful for that person. Have they ever done something nice? How do they contribute to your family, workplace or community? It’s not always easy, but if you can think of things that make you grateful about that person, you’ll have a better chance of getting past the anger and resolving the issue positively.
- Learn gratitude prayers or mantras.
In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer because they force the person to focus on what is good, instead of what is troublesome. Having a simple prayer or mantra can help you focus on gratitude a few times each day.