For the month of November, I will be doing a series of posts on gratitude. Since Thanksgiving is coming up here in the U.S, it’s a great time to start focusing on things to be thankful for. However, if you live outside of the U.S or don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, you can still practice gratitude. In fact, you should be practicing gratitude all year long because studies have shown that their are numerous benefits of a regular gratitude practice. Here are just five of the benefits of gratitude that I’ve noticed since starting my own gratitude practice.
Before this year, I’d make lists os of the things I’m grateful for from time to time, but I didn’t do this regularly. It wasn’t until I started focusing on the wonderful things in my daily life that I noticed a shift in my mindset. I’ll admit that it’s not perfect and I’m still pessimistic by nature, but it has definitely improved my outlook.
Gratitude is a mood booster
Studies suggest that people who regularly express gratitude are happier. This seems pretty obvious when you think about it. When you pay more attention to the good things in life, it boosts your mood. For example, if I’ve had a rough day and I start making a list of the things I’m grateful for, I’ll start smiling because Rosebud is always at the top of my list. When I think about her, it’s usually about something funny she did or said that day. Right away, there’s a subtle shift in my mood.
To try this out for yourself, grab a piece of paper and make a happy list. It can be anything you are grateful for or anything that makes you feel good. When you are done with your list, read it over. How did you feel before writing your list? How do you feel after?
Gratitude helps you relax
Practicing gratitude regularly has so many benefits to your mental health. Along with improving your mood, gratitude can reduce stress. Let’s go back to the rough day I mentioned above. If I go to bed thinking about all the negative stuff that happened that day, my stress levels are still high as I fall asleep. I’m not fully relaxed, but if I simply take a few minutes to write down some things I’m grateful for, it helps me focus on the good things before sleep. This way, I’m more relaxed and do less ruminating about my day. I’m not thinking about everything I didn’t get done from the todo list or something I could’ve done or said differently. Basically, it refocuses your thoughts.
This works in the morning as well. If you feel stressed in the morning or have a million reasons that you don’t want to get out of bed, try doing some gratitude. It doesn’t matter if you write it, speak it or just take five minutes to think about what you are grateful for, it will start your day off on the right foot.
Gratitude improves physical health
We’ve already discussed a couple of the mental health benefits, but gratitude has many physical health benefits as well. When you are feeling happier or relaxed, you will notice a difference in your body. Some of the health benefits include lower blood pressure, improved sleep, more exercise etc. This article goes into more details about the various health benefits of practicing gratitude.
Notice the small things
We spend too much time focusing on the wrong things. It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and or drama. We may get sucked into negative conversations. We worry about stuff that won’t matter to anyone but ourselves. Too often, we care way too. Much about what other people think. This is where gratitude can help.
Gratitude journaling has helped me focus on all the wonderful things in my life. Big things, small things and everything in between. All the stuff I’d normally take for granted such as running water, electricity, TV, internet, the computer I’m using, my iPhone, nature, my home, the clothes on my back, a comfortable bed, the washer and dryer, friends, family and my freedom. I could go on and on. You could be thankful for your favorite food, your car, drinking water, your body etc. There are so many things we take for granted every day. Practicing gratitude helps you slow down and enjoy each and every one of these things. When we realize how much we have, we learn how truly fortunate we are.
Gratitude helps you manifest what you want
Here’s a benefit of gratitude that is on the spiritual side. No matter what religious beliefs you have, practicing gratitude can fit in with any of them because it’s focusing on the blessings in your life. It can help your spiritual mindset regardless. However, if you believe in the law of attraction which basically states that you attract what you put out into the universe. It focuses on energy, so if you release positive energy, you will get positive energy in return. Gratitude is one of the best ways to “raise your vibration.” If you are interested in the law of attraction, I highly recommend this book. It’s the simplest explanation of the law of attraction hat I’ve ever read and there are so many exercises that you can build into your daily life. Many of them are around gratitude.
Gratitude is one of the fastest ways to start manifesting what you want. The more you focus on what you have, the more things will come to you. The key is to visualize and focus not he things you want as if you already have them. One exercise you can try is to make a list of 15 things you are grateful for. Five from your past, five from your present and five from your future, but write them all down in the past or present tense. Here’s a sample list.
- I’m grateful that I have found the love of my life.
- I’m grateful that I made $10,000 last month.
- I’m so thankful that I have a best friend who I can tell anything to.
- I’m so grateful that I was able to travel last year.
- I’m so grateful that I have a sweet, fun and intelligent daughter.
Okay, some of those things have happened and some of them haven’t, but it doesn’t matter. The point to be just as grateful for your past, present and future because the feelings are the same even if it has not happened yet and the physical and mental benefits are the same as well.
What do you think? Do you have a gratitude practice? What benefits have you noticed? Tell me in the comments! If you have not started a gratitude practice yet, be sure to check back next week as I will be sharing gratitude journaling prompts and exercises for you to try!