Sometimes it can feel like life is tough. One quality that is really powerful in changing our attitudes from negative to positive, and reframing what happens day-to-day, is gratitude. Gratitude is a practice of appreciation for what life brings us. Research suggests that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships, improve psychological wellbeing, promote altruism and pay-it-forward style giving, and make you happier.
Cultivating certain practices or habits can promote gratitude. For example:
- Contemplate death: this helps us not take life for granted, but enjoy our lives (as someone who volunteers in hospice, I can attest that this really works)
- Savor good experiences: this helps anchor positivity in your mind
- Avoid entitlement: instead, cultivate a practice of receiving life’s gifts and giving to others in ways that acknowledge how interconnected life is
- Appreciate people: not just things, because showing our gratitude can uplift loved ones and strangers too
- Be specific: say exactly what you are grateful for
- Be grateful when it feels like you can’t: sometimes appreciating hardships can transform them
Expressing gratitude is important to maintain a positive mindset even in times of stress; some ways to express gratitude include writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, and meditating. The benefits of are myriad and can improve our personal, social, professional, emotional, and physical lives. Gratitude is a priceless habit to build; time to give it a go if you haven’t already!
Image credit: Laura Manning via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution