We hear a lot about gratitude and how important it is for all of us. Sometimes when you’re not conscious to your feelings you may wonder why checking in with your gratitude matters. It’s actually pretty simple: Being grateful makes us happier! Being thankful for what you have—instead of feeling gypped about what you don’t—is naturally going to help you be of good cheer.
And there’s also a health bonanza. Get this: Grateful people are usually optimistic as well and that, research shows, boosts the immune system.
Now that you know why gratitude matters, let’s fill up your well with ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Here are seven small actions you can fit snugly into your days to keep your gratitude thinking up to date.
Keep a gratitude journal.
This can be all the more useful if you adapt it in ways that work best for you. Some people like to jot down a few thoughts on gratitude every day; others write about it every week or so. For me the best time is right after I’ve meditated first thing in the morning. My mind is calm and my awareness of the goodness of life is high. Some mornings I write just a few things... Other days it’s a few pages! It doesn’t have to be something large and momentous, it can be the small little things that you so appreciate having in your life.
Have gratitude thoughts before you sleep.
As you put your head on the pillow, think about five things that day that inspired gratitude in you. Finding five things each night helps keep your thinking fresh and sharpens your daily awareness of what makes you grateful. Health boon: A study showed that after focusing on gratitude, people sleep better.
Express thanks to people who help you during your day.
Of course you thank the barista for your coffee, but do you ever thank the postman who delivers your mail, the individual at the market who bags your groceries, or the person who holds the door for you? Truly take a mindful minute to thank the people who help you out and make your life a little bit sweeter or easier.
Take a mindful minute to thank the people who help you out and make your life a little bit sweeter or easier.
Start conversations with besties on a positive note.
I know, venting about your latest annoyance can feel so great, but starting out sunny will have you both feeling happier and grateful. Hold off on the gripes, and talk about something good—or even just nice—that happened to you since you last talked. Happy chatter might even make the complaints disappear. Start here: What is new and exciting in your life right now, at this very moment?
Express gratitude for lessons learned.
Life is always going to throw challenges our way—some we meet successfully and some we don’t. Whatever it is that we “fail” at has lessons in it that help us grow and do better next time. Find the lessons in the situation and be grateful for what they taught you.
Add details to your thanks.
Any thank you is appreciated, but when you add specifics to it, the thank you becomes more meaningful and memorable. Let’s say your coworker helped you meet a project deadline. Rather than a simple “thanks,” tell your colleague about specific actions that you especially appreciated. Maybe you even pen a handwritten note.
Go for a gratitude walk.
A great way to get over being upset or just plain cranky, says Deepak Chopra, is to take a solo walk to focus on what you’re grateful for in your life. Be sure to ratchet up your awareness mode as well—observe the beauty of the world around you and add that to your list.
And one more thing: Don’t overlook being grateful for YOU! Say thank you to yourself in the mirror each morning for being the person you are. Thank you to your body that keeps you strong and healthy. Thank you to your heart that reaches out to people you love.