The Proven Benefits of Practicing Gratitude in Your Everyday Life
What is Gratitude?
"It’s not happy people who are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy." -Unknown
Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, whatever you want to call it, is a "positive state of being... an emotion that signals recognition for that around us." Gratitude is about taking a look at the world around us and expressing a sense of joyfulness for what is. Gratitude can be as simple as appreciating the birds chirping in the morning...or the sensation of a warm mug in your hands.
We don’t need anything to be able to practice gratitude. We don't need to have our dream job, tons of money, and a big house to be able to access gratitude. We can experience it in every moment of every day... No matter what life looks like. Finding pockets of gratitude in your daily is proven by science to increase overall wellbeing according to a Harvard study. Expressing gratitude can even decrease the amount of sick days you have; It can literally boost your immune system!
Why is Gratitude So Important?
Gratitude is a powerful force that has the ability to transform our lives and enhance our overall well-being. When we practice gratitude, we shift our focus from what we lack to what we have, which can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional health.
Gratitude has been linked to increased happiness, reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, and better relationships. By focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and expressing gratitude for them, we cultivate a more positive outlook on life and are more resilient when faced with challenges.
Additionally, when we express gratitude towards others, we strengthen our relationships and create a sense of connectedness and belonging. Gratitude can also help us to become more mindful and present, as we become more aware of the simple joys and blessings in our lives. Ultimately, gratitude is a practice that can bring us more joy, contentment, and fulfillment in life.
How Does Gratitude Positively Impact the Brain?
Gratitude is the best form of self-care when it comes to benefitting your mental and physical health. Gratitude has major implications for our health and wellness.
According to Psychology Today, gratitude increases mental strength and self-esteem and even improves our physical health. According to the article, "Grateful people report feeling fewer aches and pains than others," according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.
Gratitude can take you out of a negative mindset and bring you into the present. But if there’s one thing about gratitude, it’s that it's a practice. It may not be something that comes naturally, but the more we practice, the more natural it becomes.
5 Ways You Can Practice Gratitude Right Now for a Better Life
Making an effort to practice gratitude daily can improve your overall health, relationships, and quality of life. Here are some ways you can start this practice.
1. Write in a gratitude journal, morning or night (or both). Write down three things you are grateful for. They don’t have to be grandiose.
2. Give gratitude to others. Express your appreciation to people for being in your life and give sincere compliments. You’ll be surprised at how much it warms you up.
3. Embrace the concept of having "enough." So often we get in our way of experiencing happiness because we are always left wanting something more. Appreciate what is there without yearning for more.
4. Try positive daily affirmations. Either listen to them on Youtube, write them on sticky notes around the house, or simply make it a routine to look in the mirror and say positive affirmations to yourself.
You’ll find, like trying anything new, that it may feel uncomfortable or insincere. But the more you exercise gratitude, the more your brain builds new pathways to accept gratitude, and soon you will embody this without having to think much about it.
Priming Yourself to Experience Gratitude
Giving your mind and body the best shot at being able to experience gratitude comes hand in hand with proper nourishment. It’s difficult to want to try out a positive practice if your body and mind aren’t being fueled with the right nutrients.
Imagine someone telling you to be positive when you haven't eaten in hours and your stomachs growling
I'd give you full permission to bite their head off.
If we want to improve our mental wellbeing, we have to give our brains the best shot at performing at their optimal level, and this is directly tied to how we nourish ourselves. When we don’t nourish ourselves properly, any positive practice seems like the last thing we would want to do. Give yourself a fighting chance at experiencing gratitude by giving your brain the proper nutrients to help you function.
Ways to nourish yourself so you have the capacity for positive thinking
- Magnesium (Helps regulate emotions and regulate serotonin levels) Sources: Almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts
- B Vitamins (Helps regulate emotions) Sources: Chickpeas, tuna, salmon, chicken
- Vitamin D (Combats depression) Sources: Salmon, mushrooms, eggs, tofu
- Omega-3 fatty acids (Helps combat depression) Sources: Salmon, chia seeds, broccoli, spinach
- Adaptogens/Functional foods (Regulate stress response) Sources: Cordyceps mushrooms, turmeric, goji berries
- Iron (Supports energy levels) Sources: Oatmeal, lentils, turkey, soybeans
- Folate (Helps serotonin regulation) Sources: Spinach, avocado, brussel sprouts, asparagus