Practicing Gratitude: Great for Your Brain, Your Relationships, and Your Finances

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There are many benefits to practicing gratitude, including living more mindfully and improving your overall well-being. Here are five ways to have more gratitude in your life.

5 ways to help you have more gratitude in your daily life

Thanksgiving, a national holiday celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year, translates to “the expression of gratitude.” There are plenty of reasons to practice gratitude, including benefits to both your personal and financial well-being.

According to Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

Practicing gratitude is not difficult but does take practice. It is also not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. In fact, practicing gratitude can mean different things to different people, ranging from daily journaling and meditation to evening prayers to volunteering.

If you’re just beginning your gratitude practice, start by observing how you express gratitude. Do you throw the words “thank you” around, or do you say them with meaning? As Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction says, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” In fact, being grateful in small ways can change the tone for your entire day.

Here are five ways to help you have more gratitude in your daily life:

  1. To play off of Kabat-Zinn’s thinking, there is nothing too small to be grateful for. Maybe it is the beauty of falling leaves or someone you miss returning a call promptly. Gratitude is about taking the time to acknowledge the good around you, big or small.
  2. Remember that gratitude is not only about being thankful for what is going right. Reflect on your past challenges and be grateful for what you learned.
  3. Set aside time each day to practice mindfulness. There are many resources, including Mindful.org and the Mayo Clinic, that you can tap into to get started.
  4. One of the most popular ways to practice is to keep a gratitude journal. According to Greater Good Magazine, “studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.” You can access their digital gratitude journal or choose a physical journal, such as those recommended here, that allow you to take pen in hand to keep track of all your blessings.
  5. Volunteering can help you feel more grateful for things you may take for granted, like good health, education, and the world you live in. It can give you a renewed sense of perspective on your life. Websites, like volunteermatch.org, community newsletters, and online resources, like patch.com, can provide you with various ways you can make a meaningful impact by “giving back” in return for all the good you have received.

One of the great things about practicing gratitude is how easy it is to share with others. Gratitude can help strengthen and improve both personal and professional relationships. The more gratitude you have in your life, the more gratitude you will receive. So, throughout this season of Thanksgiving, think about exploring ways to be grateful as a way of living, not simply something to celebrate once a year.