We all know that Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for our blessings. And, of course, that’s a good thing. An even better thing is to make gratitude a daily habit in your life.
There is a collection of research that demonstrates that practicing gratitude contributes to your overall happiness. People who practice regular gratitude experience better health, resilience, and have stronger relationships (which leads to a longer life). It will also will set the tone for all of your interactions and result in overall more positive communication.
In case you’re not convinced here’s just some of the research:
- Gratitude improves physical health – grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report that they feel healthier overall than other people, (Personality and Individual Differences, 2012).
- Gratitude improves psychological heath – practicing gratitude reduces the amount of negative emotions we experience including anger, envy, resentment, regret, and even depression (multiple studies by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.)
- Gratitude helps you sleep better and longer – (study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2012)
- Gratitude improves your self esteem and helps you perform better – (study published in Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2014)
Since gratitude isn’t generally an automatic response, we need to consciously learn how to make gratitude a habit. And, if you feel like you are already generally the grateful type, you can get even better (and happier) with practice.
To help you improve your gratitude habit, here’s my Gratitude Challenge for you this week:
For at least 1 week practice pick one of the following to do every day.
1. Make a Top 10 Gratitude List.
Brainstorm and write down everything that comes to mind that you are thankful for in your everyday life. Then narrow your list of your “Top 10.” Put the list on your mirror, or hang it somewhere where you will see it every morning.
2. Pause and appreciate.
When you shift your focus to the positive parts of your day, it trains your brain to shift away from focusing on your stress or the negative parts of your day. Take a photo each day of something that you appreciate – for example something that makes you laugh or smile, or makes you feel lucky and loved. At the end of the week, look at all of the photos together.
3. Stay in the Moment.
Focus on being present in what’s going on right now in your life. Stay away from future tripping (I’ll be happy when….) When you catch yourself thinking about how something will be better in the future, stop and reframe your thoughts to what you are thankful for today.
4. Daily Recap
Spend 10 minutes before you go to bed writing down everything that you are thankful in a journal. Now, sleep well.
I know that during your Gratitude Challenge this week you will notice small changes that will make a huge difference in your life and those around you. And that’s something to be grateful for.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home, and 52 Communication Tips. To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website: www.cornerstone-ct.com
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