[Day 5] Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one already has.

Our chaotic lives with its multiple demands have led to more anxiety and depression than ever.  Many of us think we’ll be happy in the distant future when the ideal situation finally arrives.   We often think, “I’ll be happy when I have a bigger house.”  or “I’ll be happy when I get another job” or “when I achieve another goal”.  So many of us put our happiness off today and instead are waiting for their happiness to happen in the distant future that may never come.

A feeling of gratitude in life helps us to appreciate things we have now instead of focusing on what we don’t.  When we focus on what we don’t have, we forget to appreciate all that we already have.  When we take the time to pause and appreciate all that we have now and have achieved, people tend to be happier!

Research has shown that a regular practice of gratitude has many benefits. Here are a few:

  • Improves emotional health:  Journaling just 5 minutes a day about what you’re grateful for has shown to increase happiness!  Those who noticed what they already have in their lives felt more positive!  We notice more of what we focus on. Paying attention to what is good in our lives, helps us to see more of the good instead of the bad and helps us to feel better!
  • Improves physical health:  Numerous studies have looked at the relationship between gratitude and physical health markers.  People who are more grateful have shown improved diastolic blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, less pain and better sleep.  Gratitude may even indirectly reduce inflammation and improve immune function.
  • Improves self-esteem:  Being grateful for what one already has allows one to compare themselves less to others and feel better about their own circumstances. Gratitude affects our brains. It boosts dopamine and serotonin in the brain which helps to improve mood resulting in positive feelings of pleasure, happiness and well-being.
  • Improves relationships:  Showing gratitude towards loved ones helps to make them feel good and makes them more likely to work through problems and have a more positive perception towards the relationship.  Also, those who are more grateful tend to have a wider social network, more friends, and better relationships.
  • Makes us more optimistic and giving:  Those who practice gratitude tend to feel more positive and think more positively.  When we think more positively, we tend to be less focused on ourselves and more likely to share and give to others.

Simple ways to practice gratitude:

  • Journal:  5 minutes a day on what you’re grateful for.  Write down the big and little joys in life.  It may be as small as being grateful the sun came out, appreciating the nature on a walk or the smell of fresh coffee!
  • Self-appreciation:  Every day practice saying 5 nice things about yourself.  It may feel strange at first but with practice it will get easier!  We’re so good at criticizing ourselves and making ourselves feel badly.  This will help you feel better and remember all the great things about yourself.
  • Make someone feel special:  It can be as easy as giving someone a compliment or thanking them for something they did for you.
  • Enjoy the little things in life:  Take a mindful walk, spend time with family, go out with friends, listen to your favorite music, take up a hobby that you love!

Practicing gratitude and compassion is so important and often has a domino-effect.  If you’re kind to yourself and grateful towards others, people start taking your lead, resulting in a more thoughtful and kind world.


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