We’ve dedicated an entire holiday to gathering together with friends and loved ones and being grateful. When turned into a practice, gratitude can absolutely transform every part of our lives far beyond any holiday or celebration.
Thanks to recent research, we now know that gratitude has many benefits. Here’s a snapshot of a few of the many positive effects you can glean from a gratitude practice:
- Improved relationships
- Better sleep
- Emotional resilience
- Improved self-esteem
- Reduced envy/jealousy
- Deepened friendships
While these are incredible benefits, gratitude is like exercise. It only works if it’s practiced and done consistently. If you want your life to reflect the goodness of gratitude, there are several ways you can make it a sustainable habit.
Write it down.
Take a few minutes every day to write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for. This will change your mindset and help you to look for the good and to notice abundance. Take note of what needs in your life the items on your list are fulfilling. Are they emotional, physical or spiritual? Do they have to do with your career, community or finances? When you practice mindful gratitude, it will help you see how much you already have and alleviate some of the fears that cause anxiety.
Send a thank you note.
There are people in your life who have helped you get to where you are today. Even if at this very moment, this isn’t a place that you consider a high point, you have learned lessons along the way. Who has helped you? Inspired you? Taught you? Write them a thank you note, and be specific about what you are thanking them for. Saying thank you is an act of humility. When you act in humility, you empty yourself of ego and make room for all the good there is to receive.
When you walk around with your thoughts churning and expecting the negative to happen, you miss out on the present. There is abundance all around you. Look up from your cell phone. Make eye contact with others. Smile. Connect. Notice the world around you. Enjoy and use your senses. When we are open to the world, the world opens before us and offers us its beauty. Go out in the morning expecting the good.
Surround yourself with grateful people.
When trying to build a new habit, it’s always a good idea to surround yourself with people of similar goals. Get some friends together and email or text one another a gratitude list every day. Try sharing what you’re grateful for over lunch or coffee. When you’re having a difficult time, reach out to them for help finding something to be grateful for. Surrounding yourself with grateful people will help you stay accountable to developing a habit of gratitude.
Turn the tables.
Negative things happen; that’s life. The beauty of practicing gratitude is that it allows us to search for the positive in every situation. We can take away the power negative things have over our mood and attitude when we decide to find something to be grateful for in them. This isn’t to say we should deny the difficulties or problems in our lives, but we should choose to focus on the good things in our lives instead. Next time something discouraging or problematic happens, consciously look for reasons to be grateful in that situation and see how it impacts your outlook.
This holiday season give yourself the gift of gratitude to change your outlook and your life.
Considered by many to be one of Los Angeles’ top coaches, Gretchen Hydo is a professional, certified and credentialed life and business coach, keynote speaker and thought leader, who has spent over ten years working hands-on with individual clients and notable companies, providing tools and practical tips to produce unprecedented results and meaningful life and business changes.