Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude is on many of our minds come Thanksgiving—but it’s something we should think about all year, too. Why? According to the Harvard Medical School Healthbeat blog, “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Here’s how you can bring gratitude into your life all 365 days of the year.

Live with Gratitude

Mindfulness and gratitude go hand-in-hand. By focusing on mindfulness—or becoming more aware of our thoughts, emotions and surroundings—we’re able to focus on the present and be grateful for the blessings in our lives, as well as the challenges that help us to learn and grow. So how can you begin living more mindfully? Meditation can help. To start, download the Unplug app, or pick up Suzy Yaloff Schwartz’s corresponding book Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation. Start small and see where this mindfulness practice can take you.

Express Gratitude

It might sound simple, but the act of writing out what you’re grateful for goes a long way. Try jotting down a few points on a sticky note at the beginning of the day—for example: today I’m grateful for my morning coffee! Next, try filling out the pages of a gratitude journal.

Brands like The Happiness Planner and The Five Minute Journal, come filled with meaningful writing prompts, as well as inspirational quotes, that help you hone in on why you’re feeling grateful. It’s all about focusing on the little—and big—things in your life that bring you joy, and ultimately help you approach each day with more gratitude.

Give Gratitude

Volunteering is an excellent way to express gratitude. Choose an organization that’s meaningful to you and inquire about how you can help. There are plenty of websites that advertise volunteer opportunities, whether you’re looking for a one-time or long-term commitment. You can also spread the power of positive thinking by bringing a bit of unexpected joy to someone’s day through a random act of kindness!

Share Your Gratitude

On Thanksgiving, or whenever the inspiration strikes, take the time to thank the people in your life who are most important to you by handwriting letters expressing gratitude. Find beautiful thank you notes and be sure to write from the heart. Share why you’re thanking them—think back to a specific moment you’re grateful for. Or, express why you’re grateful for how they make you feel each and every day.

Read Books on Gratitude

While the benefits of gratitude are plentiful, it’s not always easy to maintain a gratitude practice, especially with the obstacles that inevitably come our way. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement to remember why we’re cultivating gratitude in the first place, so look to books like The Grateful Book by Angela Kohler, Apple Cake by Dawn Casey, Being Thankful by Mercer Mayer, The Little Book of Gratitude by Robert A. Emmons or The Thankful Book by Todd Parr for all the inspiration you need to practice gratitude every day of the year, and not just on Thanksgiving!