Get Your Gratitude On
Now that November is here and Thanksgiving approaches, you’ve likely noticed the seasonal push to be more thankful. Beyond the holiday cliche, gratitude is a REALLY good thing. The act of recognizing the goodness in our lives helps us become less self-centered and feel more connected to something bigger than ourselves (whether to other people, nature, or a higher power). Numerous studies have linked gratitude with greater happiness. In one recent study, participants who kept a gratitude journal experienced lower levels of depression and stress and increased happiness within just three weeks (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine). The key is to make gratitude a regular practice, as instinctive of a daily practice as brushing your teeth. Like many aspects of healthy living, such as eating well and working out, gratitude requires commitment. It’s often far easier to come up with a list of what’s missing or wrong rather than focusing on all that we have right now. Neuropsychologists call this the negativity bias, and it’s made worse by the constant messages in media and advertising that we don’t have enough, don’t do enough, aren’t enough. To overcome that, we have to train our brains to focus on the positive. Fortunately, a gratitude practice doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it’s easy to make it a daily ritual. Here are our top ways to make gratitude a part of your life:
- 1. Pick a consistent time of day. When you first wake up or as you’re drifting off to sleep are both great options.
- 2. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Let yourself include the big and small – there’s no right or wrong, it’s just about what you’re moved to appreciate.
QUICK TIP: There’s a great app called “Gratitude Journal” that lets you set up a daily reminder to record your gratitude list on your device. You can even attach pictures to each list so that it becomes a fun record to look back through. Just be sure not to let yourself get distracted by social media while you're on your device. This is YOUR time.
- 3. Spend a few moments genuinely appreciating what’s on your list! Or better yet, dedicate a little more time and keep a gratitude journal. Write your daily lists down and when the doldrums hit, you'll have a reference for everything that you have to appreciate.
Let’s be inspired this month of Thanksgiving to make gratitude a daily practice. Share your attitude of gratitude with family and friends and encourage others to take part. We’ll kick it off here: we’re grateful for YOU!
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