The falling leaves and cool nights call to mind that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is the time of year that we’re reminded to give thanks and reflect on what’s important to us. Research shows that being thankful and practicing gratitude is good for your health. People who regularly practice gratitude may experience less stress, may have a healthier heart, may live longer, may sleep better, and are happier. With all of these potential benefits, we might decide to express our thanks and practice gratitude more often. Below are five simple ways that you can cultivate gratitude in your life.
Begin Your Day With Gratitude
When you wake in the morning, take a moment before you rise to acknowledge something you’re grateful for. This can be something as simple as “I’m grateful to be alive.” Starting your morning with gratitude can set the tone for the rest of your day. This makes it more likely that you’ll keep everything in perspective, be less reactive, be more positive, and overall your day will be brighter.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Take a few moments to reflect and write down at least three things that inspire you or make you happy. Try to find something new each time you journal rather than repeating entries. Gratitude journaling encourages you to focus on what you have rather than what you do not have. This practice also helps you to recognize and appreciate the smaller things that add goodness and joy to your life.
Say Thank You
Say thank you to those who are kind or helpful to you. This practice can make both you and others feel good. Life gets busy and complicated, and we can easily get distracted and forget to acknowledge someone’s kindness. A small thank you goes a long way. People like to know they matter and are appreciated.
Affirmations are a simple way to remind yourself of all of the gifts you have, or to turn around negative thinking. Make your affirmations specific and positive, and stay in the present tense. For example, “I am grateful for my health and I am blessed.” When you say the affirmation, connect with your heart and allow yourself to feel the joy.
Meditation helps to slow us down, giving us the opportunity to focus on cultivating clarity and an appreciation for all that is good in our lives. It helps us to put things in perspective and open our hearts to compassion, awareness, and love – all of which help to cultivate gratitude. When practiced regularly, meditation can help us be more effective and productive in what we choose to do, or help us to become the person we strive to be.
While Thanksgiving reminds us to pause and give thanks, cultivating gratitude is something we can do all year long. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to begin practicing gratitude. Start cultivating gratitude today and begin to experience the many benefits of a grateful heart. What are you grateful for?