In the United States, November is the BIG month for gratitude, with Thanksgiving starting off the holiday season through the end of the year. But research shows living a life of thankfulness ALL year is truly beneficial to your health.
Robert Emmons is the leading scientific expert on gratitude. Through his research, he and his team found that being grateful:
- Boosts your immune system
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Helps elevate your mood
- Allows you to celebrate the present
- Blocks negative emotions, like envy, resentment and regret
That’s a long list of attributes! Plus, think of the lift it gives to the people whom you show your gratitude. Like most positive traits though, it does take practice for most of us.
Make Gratitude a Habit
The more you do something on a regular basis the more ingrained it becomes in your life. Being grateful can go from a few-times-a-year practice to a habit with a little bit of conscious effort. Emmons recommends keeping a grateful journal. In it, you’d keep a running tally of the reasons in your life you have to be thankful.
There are a bunch of other ways to practice gratefulness in different situations. Below is a list of some ideas. Click on the links to get more details and even more ways to practice.
University of Minnesota Ten Ways to Become a More Thankful Person
Change your perspective – Bummed that you’re hobbling around in a boot after spraining your ankle? Put yourself in the figurative shoes of someone who is non-weight bearing for six weeks and is struggling with crutches, or the unlucky person who broke both legs and is confined to a bed or wheelchair. There’s always someone worse off than you. This can help you feel grateful for only having a minor inconvenience.
Use technology to share – Stuck on your laptop? Tethered to your phone? Set a reminder to send a message of thanks to someone in your life at least three times a week.
Appreciate the good times – If you find yourself enjoying a moment, take note of it and the physical and physiological sensations it brings. Does your face hurt from laughing? Is your chest bursting with pride? Are you overwhelmed with a feeling of love? Relive it as you fall asleep, or the next time you need some inspiration to be grateful.
Headspace How to Be More Grateful
Meditate – Take some time to ask yourself who or what you are most grateful for in your life. This can be done in short stints as you encounter difficult or challenging situations. Take a minute at your desk or in the quiet of your car. You can focus your meditation on your life in general, or specifically what you’re thankful for at that moment.
LifeHack – 40 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
Share acts of kindness – Whether it’s holding the door for the person behind you, paying a stranger a compliment or buying lunch for the person behind you in line, acts of kindness build a sense of gratefulness in you and others.
Use social media – Let’s face it, most of us are on it more than we intend, so use it as a space to acknowledge your blessings. Tag someone if they’ve done something to help you. Give a shoutout to a long-lost friend who once had a more prominent part of your life. Start the day with a list of three things you’re recently grateful for.
Working Together Multiplies Gratitude
Volunteering for charitable organizations is a great way to express your gratitude for what you can give to others. And working with a group, whether it’s your coworkers, friends from church or total strangers with a common desire to help, can create an explosion of good feelings! When you see a need and can help fill it, you are living in the moment and appreciating the life you have.
At Motivation Excellence, supporting a variety of charities is central to our core. We organize many on-site and off-site activities centered around helping others throughout the year. We also give each employee two days off each year to dedicate time to favorite worth-while causes. The two links in this paragraph will give you a lot of ways on how to incorporate charitable events and volunteering at your place of business.
Don’t Keep Quiet
We are often reminded of how grateful we are to have someone in our lives AFTER they’re gone. Remember to tell people while they’re alive how much they mean to you. Call your parents and grandparents more often. Tell your friends what they mean to you when you’re together. As you give a hug goodbye let people know that you appreciate them and what they do for you.
The great thing about gratitude is it’s free to share and easily gains momentum. It all starts with a thank you, a kind gesture, a compliment or even just a meaningful smile. The chain of gratefulness can grow, and that wonderful feeling of appreciation can spread to people you’ve never met. So, today, be the one who puts the “great” in grateful by being the example others can copy and share!