Giving thanks is rooted in our DNA. The power of gratitude reaches beyond making others appreciated. Neuroscientists have long researched how gratitude activates areas of the brain associated with social bonding and acts of kindness – but, thankfulness also goes a long way when it comes to our mental well being.
One group of researchers at UC Berkeley studied nearly 300 participants who had clinically low levels of mental health. Each group received counseling services during the study. However, one group wrote letters of gratitude every week. The second group journaled about deep thoughts and negative feelings, and the last group didn’t write at all.
They discovered those who wrote gratitude letters showed significant mental health improvements over 12 weeks. Gratitude can have lasting positive effects on both your physical and psychological well being, even if you don’t always outwardly express it. Here are key ways to invite more gratitude into your life.
How to Practice Conscious Gratitude
Gratitude offers incredible health benefits. It acts as a buffer when life presents challenges. It can also help improve your quality of sleep, lower chronic stress, and provide an overall sense of calmness.
These are some of my go-to methods to invite daily gratitude into my life:
Begin Meaningful Interactions with Gratitude
Work meetings, dinner with your family, or a special event are great chances to invite others to share moments of gratitude. Before beginning your usual schedule, share something you are grateful for, and then invite others to do the same. This could be a round-robin discussion, voluntary, or even a quiet moment of reflection for others in the room.
Tell Others You Appreciate Them
We often get in the habit of working out our problems with others. But how often do we have meaningful conversations that center around how much we appreciate them? Give a gift to a colleague or employee who’s done a great job. Leave flowers for a neighbor or send a card to a friend. Take your friend or sister out for a special day simply to appreciate them.
Be Mindful of Your Impact
Expressing gratitude doesn’t just happen outwardly. It’s essential to recognize the impact you’ve had on the world around you. Appreciate all that you have accomplished in your career. Recognize the impact you’ve had in your community and what you’ve provided for your family. Pay attention to how supportive you are as a friend or how you’ve gone out of your way to help others.
Write Out What You Are Thankful for
Gratitude journals are a great way to get in the habit of daily thankfulness practices. Don’t just focus on the big stuff, like getting a promotion or the roof over your head. Pay attention to the small details in life, like clean water, fresh air, flowers in bloom, the dog at the park. When you start to notice all the fine details that make your life incredible, your mood elevates, and your body reacts positively.
Conscious thankfulness is a habit. Though humans are designed to appreciate gratitude, it’s crucial to build a daily gratitude practice. Start today and watch it expand into something remarkable.