The Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful emotion and the benefits are numerous when you practice gratitude daily. Research by psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal—routinely writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and satisfaction in life.
In a 2014 study, participants were separated into a gratitude group and a control group. Participants in the gratitude group recorded daily worry, esteem and gratitude for two weeks. The results concluded that participants who wrote down what made them feel grateful each day felt less stress daily than the control group. By recalling moments for which we are grateful, we may be able to put stress into perspective.
Additional studies have shown that people who practice gratitude each day are more optimistic, sleep better, feel more alive, express more compassion and kindness and have stronger immune systems. Another great attribute of Gratitude is that it’s a key factor to being happy–read my blog post The Pursuit of Happiness – 5 Steps to Find Yours!
Now that we know the benefits of practicing gratitude, here are a 7 simple ways to practice gratitude daily. And don’t miss the Gratitude Resources below–I’ve included some amazing books to further expand on practicing gratitude and some beautiful gratitude journals to help you on your journey.
1. Keep a Gratitude journal and add to it everyday
Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. And in times of trial, a Gratitude journal helps you remember the positives in your life.
Each day, write down your positive thoughts and what you are grateful for. And be sure to open your eyes to more of the world around you. By noticing new things to be grateful for each day, you will greatly enhance your gratitude practice.
2. Wake up each morning and immediately give thanks for a new day
Before I hop out of bed to start my day, I express my gratitude for a new day–”Thank you Lord for this day and every day you give us.”
Remember, each day is a fresh start. Yesterday is over. Start with an open heart, filled with love, kindness and gratitude. I started doing this years ago and it really changed my perspective and helps me maintain a positive outlook throughout my day.
3. Appreciate the small things in life that bring you joy
Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.
4. Smile and Laugh Often
Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and calms the nervous system. Laughing sends more oxygen to the brain. That triggers the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals help us feel positive. And positive feelings generate gratitude.
5. Tell at least one person daily that you love them and appreciate them
It’s not enough to simply keep your gratitude to yourself. You can increase your feelings of gratitude by expressing that same gratitude to the people you care about.
Soul Pancake, a group that works to discover the “science of happiness,” ran an experiment where they encouraged people to write a letter to a person they were grateful for. By itself, this exercise increased their levels of happiness from 2 to 4%. However, when the same people made a phone call to the person they were thankful for to express their gratitude directly, happiness levels jumped from 4% to 19%.
Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone make their day a little brighter, but it can do wonders for increasing your own levels of gratitude and happiness in the long run.
6. Take in the beauty of nature each day
A series of experiments at UC Berkeley studied the potential impact of nature on the inclination to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others, while considering what factors might influence that relationship. Researchers showed participants nature scenes, some of which were more pleasing than others. Those exposed to the more picturesque nature scenes acted more generously and more trusting than those who saw less attractive scenes.
Based on this and other similar studies, researchers have concluded that experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotions which then leads to positive behaviors. So be mindful and grateful for the beauty in nature, including the sunrise and sunset, trees, flowers and the depth of blue in the sky. The options are endless.
7. Practice acts of kindness daily
The positive effects of acts of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnesses the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!
Acts of kindness do not have to be elaborate it can be as simple as helping a friend without being asked or buying coffee for a stranger in line behind you. Put yourself in the shoes of a barista or cashier helping you and take the opportunity to ask them how they’re doing. Let someone know you’re grateful for them on your social media and brighten their day. I bet you can think of more opportunities to spread the positive vibes!
7 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily and Gratitude Resources
- Keep a Gratitude journal and add to it everyday.
- Wake up each morning and immediately give thanks for a brand new day.
- Appreciate the small things in life that bring you joy.
- Smile often.
- Tell at least one person daily that you love them and appreciate them.
- Take in the beauty in nature each day.
- Practice acts of kindness daily.