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How To Practice Gratitude To Live Healthy and Happy

Unshackled toxic emotions, better sleep, and feeling more alive are just some of the amazing benefits of leaning in to develop an attitude of gratitude. Most don’t know, but there really is an art to the practice of being ~*~*grateful*~*~, and it’s more than just being yelled at by your mother to say thank you!

“If forgiveness is the medicine for the soul, then gratitude is vitamins.” -Dr. Steve Maraboli, a positive psychologist.

Why Do We Need to Practice Gratitude

 It goes deeper into really appreciating something that a colleague, friend, and family, or stranger has done for you and feeling it in your bones. It not only radiates kindness and generates a sense of authentic happiness to them but helps you feel like you own the day too! 

In a world that can feel busy and stressful, taking a moment to make a habit to express gratitude in an authentic way really can make all the difference. It also helps you, because doing something positive and making someone else feel good about themselves has a knock-on effect.

That positive act releases endorphins into your bloodstream giving you that warm fuzzy feeling which lowers your blood pressure and ultimately makes you a happier, healthier person. Your stress levels will decrease and you will feel more relaxed, too! And as for the positive psychology of being absolutely filled with gratitude… you'll be on cloud nine!

So, without further ado, here are a few ways that you can cultivate your sense of gratitude:

Two good friends sit on bleachers and laugh together. The friend on the right nudges his friend playfully.

Use the Right Words

Sometimes repeatedly saying thank you can be repetitive and not appear genuine. If you change the words slightly or personalize a message, it comes across in a more meaningful way. 

Phrases such as: "I really appreciate what you did," are a lot stronger and warmer in tone. Saying thank you is still important but alternate with other phrases and you'll be expressing gratitude positively as well as expressing to someone that you feel grateful!

A gif of Elaine from the show

Go Public

If you want to spread the word about a person's kindness, sending your appreciation in a more public way can add a little goodwill and “holiday cheer” to the message! Perhaps someone did a really good job on something at work? Nominate them for a staff appreciation award! That’ll give them a nice boost. 

Did a friend do something as simple as making time for you? Don’t let the little things go unnoticed! (now that we think about it, it’s probably not such a simple task, but that’s aside from the point)... 

These are the moments to strike and feel some gratitude. Take them out, pay for their drink or exclaim your love to them and be direct!

Woman in a bright yellow sweater sitting in a teal armchair. She is writing in a journal and looking at it pensively.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Journaling is a great way to think and reflect on what you appreciate about something. This scientific study from Harvard shows that if you spend just a few moments at the end of each day to write down what you’re grateful for, you’ll for fulfillment and less lack. 

It helps you process your thoughts but also creates a beautiful record of the good times. When you feel a bit low you can read your journal and reflect on your strengths and virtues through the best of times, what you appreciate about life and other people every day.

“The good life is using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.” -Martin Seligman

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Be Specific

Focusing on the details isn’t just for mediation and focus. Another way to make your thoughts more meaningful is to make them specific. It shows you have given thought to whatever it was that made you appreciate someone. 

Expressing appreciation in this way also indicates what you find special about them and what they did, is guaranteed to give them that warm glowy feeling.

A person sits at a desk and writes a letter. There is coffee next to them and they are using a wooden fountain pen.

Hand Write a Letter

Emails and texts have taken over a lot of communication these days. Unsurprisingly, a lot of it seems brief and impersonal.

The art of handwriting is one way of taking time to craft a brief note to thank someone and show they are appreciated. It may be old-fashioned to some, but slowing down and taking time to think is good for you to take time to breathe and reflect.

This attitude of gratitude also disconnects you from those toxic, negative emotions that play with your mind and lead to a downward spiral of sleeplessness and moodiness. By being thankful you can stay positive and boost your health.

So go out and embrace your very own inner Jane Austin and write some letters!

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Say It with Flowers

If you would like to be more grateful but have no clue what to do, a good way to return the kindness is by giving them flowers. It’s easy enough to simply go out of your way to pay for flowers, but thoughtful enough to have an authentic sense of gratitude. Just a small bunch of brightly colored blooms will do and make someone's day. 

If that doesn’t strike your fancy, you could also bake a few cookies to surprise someone. Small gifts of gratitude help people know they are appreciated.

Two young women help sort food at a food bank.

Give Something Back

There are times in life when something has happened or someone was truly kind to us that we want to give something back. Volunteering time or supporting a charity are perfect examples of giving back to society and being fulfilled with good life satisfaction.  There are lots of good causes out there, like Feeding America or Girls on the Run. (Today, 11/24/21 is Giving Tuesday by the way! Don’t forget to donate). 

There's always a good cause or project out there just looking for people who want to do something to help and show their appreciation. Check out a few and discover which one has your name on it- and where you can make a difference to someone else. (Not to mention, It shows good character strength too! 😉)

There are lots of ways of showing your appreciation for someone or something. By taking that positive step, you'll spread the love and warmth far and wide as you show how grateful you are.

Life really is all about the little changes and noticing the good in everyday life. So go ahead and cultivate that attitude of gratitude so we can fill the world with grateful people!