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Thanksgiving is a great time to sit around the table with family and friends and share what you’re grateful for.
Typically these include things like: I’m grateful for…
- My family
- My health
- Our home
- Our friends
- Insert vacation
- Insert material thing
And none of these things are wrong or bad. Going through the gratitude list is an absolutely wonderful tradition.
But what if gratitude didn’t have to start and stop at the dinner table on Thanksgiving?
What if we practiced gratitude daily? By practicing gratitude and truly feeling into this emotion, we are rewiring our brain to produce more happiness and positive thoughts on a daily basis, filling up our feel-good internal bank.
Creating a daily gratitude practice is scientifically proven to:
- Improve your mental health by effectively increasing happiness and reducing toxic emotions ranging from resentment to depression. Having struggled with anxiety and depression over the year, I know my daily gratitude practice helps me stay grounded even on the harder days.
- Gratitude reduces aggression and increases empathy, so you’re less likely to be annoyed with other people and retaliate when things don’t exactly go your way. Gratitude also opens you up to feeling more compassion which is the foundation for building and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Gratitude actually helps improve your self-esteem because you are less likely to compare your life to others and feel bitter or envious about it. When you’re so focused on the good in your life, you’re less worried about what other people are doing or not doing.
- Practicing gratitude by writing what you’re grateful for before bed may even help improve your sleep by sleeping longer and better throughout the night.
So how do you practice gratitude regularly?
Well, there’s no right or wrong way or a good or bad time to do it. The most important thing is to feel gratitude in your mind and body as you’re doing the work.
Here’s what works for me:
At some point during the day (I usually do this in the morning, but if I have a very hectic morning, I’ll do it either during the day or before bed), I'll write out five things that I’m grateful for.
These things can range from the warm sun hitting my face, my meds that help me manage my medical problems, my son sleeping through the night, the first sip of coffee warming up my body, etc. Nothing is off the table.
As I write it out, I say what I’m grateful for, I close my eyes, and I truly bask in the happiness and joy that starts to fill my body up. I hold this thought and feeling for 30 seconds for my brain to register this sensation. Rinse and repeat four more times.
If a gratitude journal starts to feel like a chore, take a break and instead consider practicing mindfulness. Go outside, feel the warm sun, the cool breeze, the wet rain, etc., and then consider trying again.
A gratitude practice is a shortcut to creating your own happiness and joy without ever having to buy anything or changing your circumstances. Are you ready to give it a try?