Practicing Gratitude May Improve Your Well-being

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Practicing Gratitude May Improve Your Well-being

Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for what one already has, rather than yearning for what one wants.  According toPsychology Today, deliberate practice of gratitude can increase a person’s well-being, energy levels, optimism, and overall happiness.  Below are easy and free ways to practice gratitude today.  

1.  Write a Thank You Letter –  This year, I reflected on how lucky I am to have a successful career.  As I thought through the path of hard work and sacrifices that got me to where I am today, I also knew there was more than “elbow grease” to credit for my good fortune.  Through my early youth, there were a handful of teachers who helped guide me and influenced my love for learning.  I was able to find one of those teachers and wrote a heartfelt thank you letter to him.  Words cannot express the feelings of joy I got from hearing his response.  Do you have someone to be grateful for?  Write them a letter that they can read over and over again.  

2.  Name One Thing Your Grateful For Before Going to Bed – It can be anything at all. Today, I am grateful that my second batch of sauerkraut fermented (my first batch was a big failure).  Write down what you’re thankful for each day in a journal or just say it in your mind before you go to sleep. 

3.  Give Thanks Daily – Take a couple minutes each morning to give thanks to whomever or whatever you are thankful for.  This can be done in prayer or meditation, and it’s a great way to start your day focused on the blessings you woke up to.  I love this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he shows gratitude for the time given him that day.  
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

4.   Tell Someone Why They Are Special – My husband and I write little notes to each other.  I write mine on scraps of paper that need to recycles and stick them to his coffee cup or in his car.  They say things like, “You make me smile,” and they take less than a minute to jot down.  He sends me text messages during the day with one-liners about what he thinks is special about me.  What a wonderful gift to give and receive just a little reminder that we are oh so loved.  

5.  Give Thanks to Problems – As you hit a stumbling block, try to reflect on the positive things that may come of it.  Perhaps it will make you a stronger person, healthier, more present, or open a door to greater opportunity.  Being thankful for the failures in our lives is a way of acknowledging our perseverance.

6.  Watch Pets and Children – Still having a hard time coming up with things to be grateful about?  Watch a child playing and see the joy that the simplest things bring them.  They are expressing gratitude for sprinklers on a hot sunny day and the colors in the sky at sunset.  Animals are also gracious beings and can show you that the simplest of things are the greatest gifts.  Watch a cat laying in the sun on a window perch or a dog running along after a ball.  They are grateful for the air, for the Sun, for the very day that they get to exist.  We can be too.

7. Reminisce  – Look at old photographs or memorabilia to jog memories of a time of happiness and gratitude.  Like most moms, I look at baby pictures of my daughter and relive the joy of rocking her and celebrate the accomplishments of raising her to be a happy, healthy little girl today.  

How do you practice gratitude?

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