How Being Thankful Can Transform Your Life, Year-Round
It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and this holiday presents a poignant reminder to feel grateful for all of the positive things in our lives.
But, why stop at Thanksgiving? Science has proven that thankfulness is a powerful, and simple, way to lift your mood throughout the year. Here’s why this seemingly simple act has such a positive impact on your brain and health, and how to make the feeling last.
The benefits of being thankful
It might come as a surprise that experts have studied emotions extensively, including the impact our emotions have on our brains, bodies, and relationships. Once the idea of expressing gratitude was studied, scientists found a myriad of benefits.
People who make it a point to be thankful experience:
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being.
- Overall greater happiness and positivity.
- Increased resilience during tough times, and better self-esteem.
- Decreased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Improved health, including higher energy levels, a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and fewer headaches.
… and that’s just the beginning. If you start making a point to find something to be grateful for every single day, I guarantee you’ll notice benefits beyond the ones listed here. Even if you simply feel less negative, that’s reason enough to start.
How to practice gratitude, every day
Like any habit, being openly thankful and gracious will take some development. While you’re trying to build your new, gratitude-feeling self, incorporate some of these tips into your daily life:
Make a list of things you feel grateful for, right now
Why wait to get started? Jot down a list of five things in your life that you feel thankful for. Once you’ve finished your list give yourself a few moments to truly reflect on what you’ve written.
Keep a gratitude journal
Take the list-writing a step further by keeping a daily gratitude journal (or even a Word document on your computer). Write something down in your journal every day until it becomes second nature.
If you aren’t sure how to get into the journaling habit, you might want to set an alarm to remind yourself each day, or keep a post-it note on your desk as a prompt. And remember, length isn’t important in your journal, but your genuine gratefulness is.
Actively show appreciation
Take your thankfulness out of your mind and into the world by actively showing appreciation, especially toward your friends and loved ones. You could write someone a kind note, offer to help a friend out, make a quick phone call, or any number of other actions.
How you express your gratitude isn’t the most important part of cultivating a Thanksgiving mindset all year… the important part is that you do express your gratitude.