If you take a moment to think back on your day, what thoughts and events typically come to mind? Is it how good that first sip of coffee tasted? Or the kind person who held the door open for you? Or is it perhaps that presentation you feel like you messed up or the car that cut you off in traffic on your way home?
For many of us, it’s the latter moments that jump to the forefront of our minds -- the struggles, the challenges, the things that went wrong. But even on the most difficult of days, there are things going right. A friend might text us just to check in, our favourite meal might be on sale, or the weather might be particularly nice.
By tuning into these positives that are happening all around us, and expressing gratitude for them, we can have a major impact on both our mental and physical wellbeing.
Glenn Fox, an expert in the science of gratitude explains that benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, increased levels of exercise, reduced symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, and lower blood pressure.
In order to experience these benefits over the long term though, we need to build them into our daily or weekly routine. By practicing gratitude regularly, it becomes easier to reach for gratitude even in those harder moments.
So how can we build gratitude practices into our daily lives? Check out a few of our tips.
1. Schedule it
Building new habits into our routines takes time. Just as we might need to dedicate a certain section of our day to preparing for a meeting, or to going for a run -- the same thing can be helpful for building a gratitude practice.
Commit 5-10 minutes each day to writing down 3 things you're grateful for. They can be big or little, simple or significant. Simply have a seat, open your journal, take a few grounding breaths, and write down what things, people or moments come to mind. If you struggle to get into the habit, consider setting a daily timer on your phone. Just be sure to pick a pleasant sound you'll look forward to hearing!
2. Share your gratitude with others
Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on over 400 people. Which intervention offered the greatest impact on overall happiness? The act of writing and personally delivering a letter of gratitude to someone they felt had never properly been thanked. After doing so participants immediately reported increased happiness scores, and this benefit lasted for a month.
Practicing gratitude with and for ourselves is undoubtedly powerful, but research like this indicates that sharing that gratitude with others may have an even greater impact. Consider investing in some nice cards or paper and take some time once a week to sit down and write out letters of appreciation to those who have had a positive impact on you. You just might make both of your days!
3. Keep practicing
It can take time and patience to get in the habit of feeling gratitude on a regular basis. But the more you practice, the more natural it will become. Pretty soon you'll find yourself able to find moments of appreciation and gratitude even on the most challenging of days.
There are many more ways we can practice gratitude on a regular basis. If you want to learn more strategies and to begin practicing them sooner rather than later, consider booking our 10-Day Practicing Gratitude Challeng. It's a fun and informative way to start and strengthen your gratitude practice, and ultimately, your overall happiness and wellbeing. Simply use the form at the bottom of this page to send us an email and learn more.