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The Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude. As Thanksgiving winds down and we eat the last of our turkeys and stuffing, thoughts of what we are grateful for may also start to fade out.

While to some gratitude may be something that is just a passing whim around the dinner table once a year, there are many benefits of living a grateful life, and cultivating gratitude as a way of being that science is just beginning to explore.

Let's take a look at some of the impacts we’re beginning to discover, as well as explore some fun and simple ways to bring gratitude into your life year round.

The Benefits of Gratitude

It may seem like an airy-fairy thing, but gratitude can have a huge impact on your life and your health.

  1. Better Mental Health - People who pay regular attention to what they are grateful for have lower rates of depression, anxiety, and even showed improved symptoms of PTSD. Two gratitude practices a day were shown to reduce depression by 41% in at-risk patients.
  2. Lower Stress - Stress is one of the biggest health risks and regular gratitude practice is also shown to reduce stress hormone levels by 23%.
  3. Boosted Immune System - Lower stress means your immune system is able to function more optimally.
  4. A Happier Life - Those with a regular gratitude practice tend to also have better relationships and a more positive outlook on life and report higher overall satisfaction with life.
  5. Closer Relationships - A study done in 2010 showed increased levels of relationship satisfaction and happiness after partners showed gratitude to one another.
  6. Improved Physical Health - Grateful people are more likely to take care of their bodies, showing a higher tendency to eat well and exercise regularly, and be less likely to smoke or abuse alcohol.
  7. Better Sleep - People who wrote down a few things they were grateful for before bed tended to sleep better and longer.
  8. Better Able to Cope with Life’s Challenges - Grateful people have improved mental resilience in coping with traumatic events, as well as greater patience and understanding for others. People who practice gratitude also tend to be more optimistic about their lives, and futures, which is a key piece in resilience.

How to Create a Daily Gratitude Practice

There are many ways to incorporate being thankful into your life, and it really can be quite easy and take hardly any time at all.

Photo of a gratitude journal

  1. Create a Gratitude Journal - A popular way to practice gratitude is to start a journal devoted to the things you’re grateful for. You could write in it each morning, before bed, or even carry it with you and make a note every time you notice something you're grateful for throughout the day.
  2. Start Your Day with Gratitude - Have the very first thoughts of your day be of gratitude. The minute you wake up, start by thinking of 10 things you’re grateful for to set the tone for the rest of your day.
  3. Count Your Blessings Before Bed - Before you go to sleep, think back through your day and find as many things to be grateful for as you can.
  4. Utilize Your Commute Time - On your commute to work, create a game of seeing how many things you can notice that you’re grateful for.
  5. Write Thank You Notes - When someone does something for you that you appreciate, spend the time to write them a thank you note and spread the gratitude!
  6. Volunteer - Offering your time and energy towards a cause that is meaningful to you is a great way to practice gratitude.
  7. Create a ‘Gratitude Vision Board’ - Create a visual reminder of the things you’re most grateful for and place it somewhere prominent like on your fridge or your computer or phone background and feel gratitude each time you see it.

Don’t worry about struggling to find things to add to your practice, you’ll be surprised once you start just how many things to be grateful for there are! Start with the little everyday things you take for granted, like story time with your child, the smell of rain, or having clean drinking water, and watch as more and more things to be grateful for come to you.

May you and your loved ones be blessed with many things to be grateful for this season.