Updated: Feb 14
Did you know that showing thanks for the people around you and the gifts you receive can actually create lasting feelings of gratitude in your brain?
Science is proving that gratitude leads to a biological response.
For many of us, gratitude is a state of being. We are grateful for our birthday gifts, our job, or our friends. However, gratitude is also a trait. When we practice gratitude in our daily lives, gratitude becomes a character strength and improves our everyday life.
Here are five simple ways gratitude improves your everyday life with tips to improve your practice.
1) Improves quality and duration of sleep. Research shows counting your blessings before catching your ZZ's improves sleep.
Try this: While brushing your teeth, tell the person in the mirror five things you're grateful for that happened during the day.
2) Leads to better relationships with the people around you. Let the people in your life know how much you value them and how they met your needs, or the “why.”
Try this: Once a month, handwrite a thank you note to someone in your life and send it in the mail.
"Thanks for looking after my plants while I was away. I just planted them and was afraid I would lose them when I had to go home suddenly to care for my mother."
Or you can thank people you do business with by dropping off home-baked cookies or a box of chocolates to their office or place of business.
"Thanks for always looking out for me. I truly value the extra effort you put in to make my visit just a bit better."
3) Helps you achieve your goals more readily. A study showed that college students who kept a gratitude journal had more determination and energy.
Try this: Keep a gratitude journal to write down everything you're grateful for each day. Start with: I am grateful for … because ….
4) Reduces the amount of stress in your life. Numerous studies have shown that a simple gratitude practice can reduce stress or help you better cope with stress.
Try this: The next time you're experiencing stress or find yourself in a stressful situation, take a deep breath and find one positive thing in your surroundings. Whisper to yourself I am thankful for (that one positive thing in your surroundings).
5) Creates happiness that lasts. Gratitude is a positive emotion, and we know through science that gratitude produces long-lasting effects in the brain.
Try this: Practice mindfulness meditation five minutes a day. Focus on the present moment without judgment around the word "grateful."
When you’re just beginning your gratitude practice, remember there are two stages of gratitude. The first is recognizing goodness in your life. The second is recognizing the source. Putting words to the “why” will deepen your expression of gratitude.
I am thankful for … because ….
If you're feeling overwhelmed, pick one area of your life you want to improve and start there…with baby steps.
Jessica Crow helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their own lives and the lives of others through practical courses and personalized mentorship.
Find out more about the next 100- Hour online CNTRD Meditation Teacher Training starting April 9th, and her new book 'The Power of Guided Meditation'.