As you know, this is the time of year we take pause to remember what we are thankful for.
As we gather around tables and prepare for upcoming holidays, we share thoughts of gratitude and blessings with our families and friends. But what about the rest of the year? What would it look like to practice gratitude every day?
For starters, we’d be happier. Emerging research indicates a strong link between mental wellness and expressing gratitude on a regular basis. In one such study at Harvard University, those who regularly expressed gratitude – either verbally or in a daily journal – experienced less anxiety and depression than those who did not express gratitude daily.
Our hearts like it, too. Wellness guru Deepak Chopra, MD, teamed up with expert cardiologists to study the health effects of gratitude and found that those who express daily gratitude had increased heart rate variability and reduced inflammatory biomarkers, both measures of reduced risk for cardiac disease.
Our work benefits from gratitude. Praise for work well done and recognition of others’ talents has long been recognized as contributing to happiness and good morale in the workplace. Saying “thank you” to a colleague may make a positive difference in their productivity and will increase the likelihood that you feel positive about your work.
So how do we make gratitude a daily habit? Here are some ways to get started:
- Say thank you to at least one person daily. Giving and receiving gratitude has the same effect on your wellness. Thanking someone for their work, input or advice is an easy way to cultivate small doses of gratitude.
- Keep a journal. Most of the studies performed on the effects of gratitude required participants to write a brief daily statement about what they were grateful for. Requiring this of yourself – however short it may be – spotlights the positive in our lives even on the hardest days. If you have children at home, invite them to participate too!
- Have a gratitude partner (or team). Whether it’s a friend, colleague, family member or trusted advisor, share with others what is going well in your life. Verbalizing the positive solidifies it in our minds, creating the neural pathways for increased mental wellbeing.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness, the practice of focusing on the present moment only, allows us to home in on what we are currently experiencing and removes the anxiety about the future. Sit for a moment each day and focus only on what you have right now: what is present in your life that brings you joy? Who is important to you? What activities, hobbies or ideas excite you? Focusing on these small but meaningful questions help you measure the positive in your life.
Whichever way you choose to cultivate and express gratitude, make it a daily habit, not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. Your mind, body and soul will thank you!
This article is from the PAS Newsletter. To download the entire newsletter, click here.