The Thanksgiving holiday is almost here and we often give thanks for many different things. It may be family, friends, our health, our work or our neighbors. Unfortunately, this may be the only day of the year that we stop to be thankful. But what if you could be thankful everyday? Does practicing daily gratitude help us in life? Turns out, it does.
Practicing to be grateful can happen in many different ways. Writing one thing down every day that you are grateful for in a journal, notebook or on a tablet may be the most popular way to practice gratitude. There are also ways to practice gratitude daily with others on social media.
On Twitter if you search the word gratitude and click on People, you'll see how many people and handles are organized around being grateful. Just a few to check out are Lorraine Miller, Gratitude and Trust, and Gratitude Journal. Who said social media can't be a positive experience? There are plenty of positive people to find. You just have to look!
I've even participated in a 30 day gratitude challenge on Twitter. It is usually organized by one person and then you commit to posting something you are grateful for everyday. If you haven't practiced being grateful every day, joining a Twitter challenge is a great way to start the practice. There is something so motivating about posting a tweet with something positive to share with the other participants.
There are a lot of benefits of practicing gratitude in both our personal and professional lives.
If you are working in an environment where motivation is lacking, practice gratitude by saying thank you, giving a pep talk or recognizing an accomplishment. Studies have shown this will help motivate people at work.
Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not. (Source: Harvard Health)
When you are grateful every day for something, even if it is a small thing, you become a more optimistic person. A psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania studied a group of people who were asked to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness. The participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores when they delivered the letter. The impact of this simple act was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month. (Source: Harvard Health)
FEWER VISITS TO THE DOCTOR
If you want to be healthier, being grateful results in fewer visits to the doctor. There was a study of three groups. Each group was instructed to write down very different topics.
One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week.
A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them.
The third group wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. (Source: Harvard Health)
More evidence of being healthier when you are are grateful, is from a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. According to the study, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. (Source: Psychology Today)
Sleep has become one of the easiest things we can do for our overall health. Yet a lot of people are unable to get a restful sleep every night. A 2011 study showed that writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep. And it doesn't have to be a long exercise of writing things down. The study showed spending just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, will help you sleep better and longer. (Source: Psychology Today)
Stress is a mighty monster that can wreak havoc on your relationships, your health and your mind. Reducing stress is a priority for most of us since we understand the negative effects it has on us. Practicing being grateful is a great way to relieve stress. Especially when you are in the moment.
When we are stressed, we have negative reactions. We may lash out at people, say things we don't mean or become impossible to talk to. Next time you feel yourself reacting to a stressor, try to think of 5 things to be grateful for. For example, when feeling stressed at work, try to think about several things that you like about your job. You can do the same with relationship stress, financial stress, or other daily hassles. The more you gently remind yourself of the positives, the more easily a shift toward gratitude can occur. (Source: Very Well Mind)
In general, practicing gratitude has numerous health benefits and helps us enjoy a healthy life.
Do you think you can start a gratitude practice? Let me know in the comments below.
Being grateful is part of my 5 Step process to help you overcome the barriers that are keeping you from enjoying your life.
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