As Thanksgiving Day approaches, many of us will take the time to express gratitude. In fact, going around the table and saying aloud what we are grateful for is a time-honored tradition in many families.
But expressing gratitude doesn’t have to end when the leftovers are put away or the last guest pulls out of the driveway.
In fact, research shows that incorporating a regular gratitude practice in your life can increase resilience and overall life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, increase feelings of happiness and positive mood, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve sleep quality.
The holidays are a great time to begin a gratitude practice such as keeping a gratitude journal or writing down at least three positive things before going to bed.
Here are some more ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
Write a note of gratitude. Writing a thank-you letter expressing the impact someone has had in your life can make you happier and deepen your relationship. If you can, deliver the letter in person and read it aloud. Aim to write a thank-you letter monthly.
Avoid comparing yourself to others: When you find yourself resenting what somebody else has or excels at, counter those feelings by reminding yourself of all the wonderful things you have or are good at. Make a list or ask a friend to point out your attributes.
Smile, nod, or hug: Take the time to genuinely acknowledge someone. This has the benefit of not only making you feel happier but also the person receiving the acknowledgement. Want to do more? Practice random acts of kindness and expect nothing in return.
Pay attention. Identify things you have taken for granted and be thankful for them. For example: Be thankful for the mango tree in your backyard; Be thankful for the elevator doors opening as soon as you push the button; Be thankful for your warm and fuzzy slippers; Be thankful for the moonlight you can see outside your window.
Volunteer. Join a cause that speaks to you and volunteer your time. Volunteering will remind you that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. It will connect you to your community and provide you with a sense of purpose.
Embrace challenges. Turn challenges into opportunities for growth. When something doesn’t work out, think about what you can learn from the experience or how you can react to the situation in a different way next time.
Life can be hard. But it is how we react to setbacks and challenges that determines how we will experience those pivotal moments. You have a choice. Be grateful!