Every Thanksgiving, millions of Americans take a few minutes to consider the origins of the holiday and show thankfulness to those around them. But gratitude shouldn’t be something that we only practice a few times a year when we remember . Over the past decade, numerous studies have shown that something as simple as being grateful can have a dramatic impact on our mental and physical health.
One 2015 study found that those who practice gratitude tend to be more hopeful in their lives. But the benefits of gratitude aren’t only mental. The study also found that those who practice gratitude tend to be physically healthier too.
We all know that sleep is one of the most important lifestyle factors linked to personal health. Another study found that those who practice gratitude tend to sleep better and longer than their counterparts.
Last but not least, a third study found that gratitude is linked to higher self-esteem. Self-esteem can impact all spheres of a person’s life, from overall happiness to improved performance at work.
Considering the many benefits of giving thanks, it’s clear that it’s in one’s best interest to do it not only on Thanksgiving but also on a regular basis throughout the year. Try these three strategies for practicing thankfulness and increasing the amount of gratitude in your life:
- Practice mindful gratitude daily. The mental and physical benefits of gratitude will be more prominent if you practice daily. One common method psychologists recommend is to take 5 minutes either at the beginning or the end of your day (though you can do it anytime) and list three things you’re thankful for. You can either do this mentally, or keep a gratitude journal that you can then read over periodically to remember all the different things you’re grateful for.
- Write Thank You notes. How do you currently thank the people in your life for favors they do for you? Writing thank you notes is a great habit because it forces you to take some time and put your thoughts together in order to write the note. This in and of itself causes you to be more conscious about your gratitude than if you had told the person a quick “Thanks!”. The personal touch will also surely be much appreciated by the recipient of the card.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It’s hard to be thankful when those around you are exhibiting negative attitudes, and much easier to be thankful when you’re around well-adjusted individuals who are themselves capable of showing gratitude. Promote your own feelings of thankfulness by making an effort to surround yourself with people who exude a similar attitude.
We hope this post will make you think more deeply about the important role thankfulness plays in our lives, and inspire you to be practice mindful gratitude in your own life.