Reap the benefits of gratitude
Want more blessings in your life? Then spend a little time counting those you already have.
Feeling thankful, it turns out, may help you in surprising ways. Some studies suggest that grateful people tend to:
- Have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure.
- Be less bothered by aches and pains.
- Exercise more and take better care of their health.
What's more, an attitude of gratitude might also:
Create other positive emotions. When you feel thankful, you may also feel calm, optimistic and even joyful.
Help block negative emotions. Think about it: It's hard to feel envious, resentful or regretful when you're grateful.
Build better relationships. When you feel and express heartfelt appreciation, you deepen your bonds with other people. And you build trust too.
Help you recover more quickly from setbacks. Gratitude may increase your resilience and take some of the hurt out of disappointments by keeping them in perspective.
Pave the way for positive actions. When you're aware of another person's kindness, you may be more likely to act kindly in return. And your gratitude can spark a wonderful chain reaction in others.
Six ways to reap the benefits of gratitude
While being thankful may come more naturally to some of us than others, a spirit of gratitude is something you can cultivate—and in fairly simple ways. Here are six ideas. Try them all—or pick and choose what works for you:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Every day, be on the lookout for the good things in your life, and write them down. Consider blessings big and small, now and in the past. Think of the people who love you, the things you've accomplished, the food on your table or the smile on a friend's face. Give special thought to things you might have taken for granted.
- Create a gratitude ritual. Make it a habit to reflect on what you're thankful for at certain times—say, at dinner with your family or on your way to work. Or you could start or end the day in a promising way by thinking about your good fortune.
- Mark milestones with gratitude. Is it your birthday, an anniversary or another special occasion? This is your cue to look back and savor the highlights of your life so far.
- Say thank you with a special letter. Is there someone who's made a positive difference in your life? Take the time to craft a thoughtful note. Not only might you lift someone else's spirits, odds are you'll lift yours as well.
- Spread good news. When something wonderful happens to you, don't keep it inside. Telling others about a happy event can give you extra satisfaction from it.
- Make the best out of the bad. When you face something unpleasant, appreciate what you've learned. Ask yourself, "How have I grown from this situation?" or "What makes me proud about how I handled this?" Look for the silver lining—chances are it really is there.
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