Do you ever sit back and remember something and start laughing out loud? Or you’re at the store and remember something that makes you randomly smile? That warm, fuzzy feeling you get provides significant benefits to your mental and physical health. Positive psychologists have found that gratitude is essential to the health of individuals and families, organizations, and society as a whole. But what exactly is gratitude and why is it so important?
Happier Human describes gratitude as an emotion, a mood, or as part of one’s personality. It’s about expressing your gratefulness for something someone did, feeling grateful for what God has allowed you to experience, and allowing yourself to see the good in everyday life. So much positivity, right?! When these positive happenings become your focal point, you begin to recognize changes in how you feel about yourself, your outlook on life, and your views of the future. Being grateful helps you appreciate small, simple things in life, which means finding joy in everything instead of needing something major to make you happy (like buying a new car or going on an extravagant vacation). Big things are great, don’t get me wrong, but they shouldn’t be the only reason we’re grateful.
It’s like a wonder drug that can boost your mood and repair your body at the same time. People who experience gratitude daily have fewer bouts of depression, anxiety, and jealousy because they’re focused on what they have and not what they don’t. They have healthier coping mechanisms during tough times and see the positives in challenging situations; coming out stronger by learning the lessons that came from their struggle instead of dwelling on how hard that moment was. Physically they have an increase in their quality of sleep, decreased blood pressure, the will to take better care of their self, and a stronger immune system (Huffington Post).
One thing I’ve always loved doing is paying bills. I know, I know, I sound CRAZY, but I’ve always been grateful for having an income, making enough money to pay the bills, and my ability to be organized and have a system in place to pay them on time (well, most of them, at least). Paying bills isn’t something anyone would actually do if they had a choice, but I have chosen to be grateful for my family having our needs met instead of griping about it every month.
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel gratitude at a deeper level, internalizing the emotions that come with it? Here are a few ways you can start to feel more grateful and see the benefits of gratitude in your life:
Write in a gratitude journal
Get an elegant journal or use a notebook you already have to write about the good things going on in your life. Oprah recommends it, so of course you should do it, right?! Right! I’ll talk more about this later.
Tell a friend how something they did for you made you feel
Express your gratitude to someone who was there for you in a small way. Someone who did something recently that help you out and made you feel good. Not everyone gets to hear how a small deed they did made someone feel special, and you never know how good it could make them feel.
Volunteer work or community service
Go into the community and do good for other. This sounds like the opposite of self-care, but it’s, in fact, good for you too. Giving part of yourself to others, expecting nothing in return, gives you a natural high. It also gives you a better perspective on the world around you, allowing you to be more grateful in your own life.
Reflect on the positives each day
Give yourself some time at the end of the day to sit and meditate on the good things that happened. Focus on the little moments that you normally would look over or take for granted.
Enjoy a date with yourself
Get dressed up and take yourself out for a lovely dinner-and-a-movie type of date. Reconnect with your interests and who you truly are. Find your internal happiness that was inadvertently left behind when you started your family.
Make sure to experience gratitude the way it was meant to be – with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole soul. Find it in the small things that we usually overlook throughout the day, and express your gratitude to the people who make you happy.
What do you do to show and experience gratitude? Make sure to get your daily dose of gratitude every day to keep the doctor away!