Gratitude Every Day

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Isn’t it wonderful that we set aside a holiday to gather together with loved ones, and feast and relax and reflect on giving thanks?

While overindulging on Thanksgiving may not be the healthiest thing for us, it turns out that feeling grateful really is good for our health! Study after study shows that our attitude affects our health just as much as—or maybe even more than—our habits do.

Every year it seems that people enjoy getting in the “holiday spirit,” and we all express how much we wish that spirit could last throughout the year.

Well, maybe it can! At least prioritizing our focus on gratitude is something that can be practiced all year. Here are seven tips for practicing gratitude every day:

Keep a Gratitude Journal. For whatever reason(s), we tend to focus on what goes wrong in life. The simple act of committing to paper all the little, commonplace things we’re thankful for can help us focus on the positive. Spending just a few minutes each day counting our blessings helps shift us out of stressed out, bummed out mode into a happier, healthier state of mind. Even writing every other day is good!

Acknowledge Negative Feelings, Too. While focusing on gratitude does increase feelings of wellbeing, it’s not all about avoiding the “bad” stuff in an effort to stay optimistic 100% of the time. Setbacks are a part of life, and negative experiences and emotions need to be dealt with and processed. In fact, once we get through a hard time, looking back on how we felt and how we handled that part of our journey can actually help us feel more grateful for our current situation!

“Shower the People You Love with Love” (a la James Taylor). Having a sense of connection with others is one of the key ingredients of good health. Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, says that “Gratitude really helps us connect to other people. It actually strengthens relationships, and relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and coping with stress.” He says gratitude, more than any other, is the emotion of friendship.

 When we express appreciation for loved ones, it creates closeness as we allow them to see how much we value them. And it’s a non-vicious cycle, because when others let us know how much they value us, it increases our happiness and gratitude!

Use Social Media Wisely. Thankful people use social media networks mindfully. Dr. Emmons says those who practice gratitude “use whatever cues exist in everyday environments to trigger grateful thoughts. Pictures and information on social media” are very instruments to do so. In fact, research has found that positive images on social media spread faster than negative messages do! 

Of course, it’s very easy to get sucked in to the drama and negative noise. So, Emmons suggests creating a file of uplifting posts that can trigger happy feelings when you need help feeling grateful. We can also use social media networks to reach out to supportive friends when we need to connect.

Remember Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. To practice gratitude every day, it’s important to acknowledge every act of kindness, no matter how small—and pay it forward. Even just a smile or a compliment from you can make someone’s day. And remembering to be thankful for a smile or compliment can make your day.

One study showed that “everyday” gratitude gave romantic relationships a better chance for success, because “daily gratitude interactions” increased the sense of connection and overall satisfaction for both women and men. (It’s pretty nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? It also feels nice to be appreciative!)

Volunteer. It seems it truly is better to give than to receive. Research shows that volunteering can result in lessening depression and increasing feelings of wellbeing. This might be because service to others helps us get in touch with our own inner spirituality, and we feel grateful for the experience. Interestingly, giving helps people feel more gratitude than receiving.

Exercise. In a symbiotic cycle, people who practice gratitude tend to exercise more (and smoke and abuse alcohol less), and because exercise clears our mind and reduces stress, it sets us up to experience more gratitude. Grateful people who exercise have healthier minds and bodies!

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. And if you enjoy a day of thanks with loved ones, compliments, exercise and so on, I hope it inspires you to consider practicing gratitude every day.

Source: “7 Habits of Grateful People” by Lindsay Holmes on Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/27/gratitude-habits_n_4343934.html

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on November 23, 2016

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