It’s been an interesting year, filled with challenges and uncertainties. Reported stress levels, anxiety, and depression have worsened since 2020 and people are seeking ways to cope with the added mental strains. According to recent news articles, many are leaving their jobs at unprecedented rates. The need for mental health counselors is on the rise. There is a collective movement to boost personal happiness and seek enriching fulfillment.
If you’re searching to make an improvement in overall health and well-being, a possible solution may be as simple as a daily focused thought. Imagine that: By merely thinking of something every day, you can manifest peace and happiness. What is the secret behind this method of self-evolution? Gratitude.
Evidence indicates that gratitude can have a powerful effect on a person’s mental state and outlook on life. It has been shown to improve sleep, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, and assist with depression. Additionally, there is research that shows a correlation between gratitude, love, and interpersonal trust. But these benefits don’t come from simply listing off one thing that you’re grateful for at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Just as with exercising and working out, the more you practice gratitude the more you feel its effects.
Practicing daily gratitude is acknowledging the joy and meaning in the small yet enjoyable moments in everyday life. Appreciating the sun rise on your commute to work or savoring that evening cup of hot tea when everyone else has gone to bed. These are the opportunities that we face each day in which we can choose to derive joy, retraining our brains from dwelling on points of unhappiness or what we feel we may lack in life.
One way to embark on this daily endeavor is to keep a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be complicated; better yet, keep it simple – one or two lines per day. Focusing on even one specific item per day for which you feel gratitude can help to refocus your attitude and alter your outlook. You may even find yourself seeking out these moments of gratitude throughout the day. With time, you may find yourself ‘retraining’ your brain to notice the happier points in your life while quieting the impact of the potentially darker moments.
In addition to writing in a gratitude journal, another proven method of becoming a more grateful individual is writing personal thank-you notes. If writing isn’t your forte, make a point to personally profess thanks or gratitude to someone each day. This expression of gratitude has benefits two-fold, as it has the ability to bring joy to someone else while allowing you to consciously choose gratitude in that moment. Simple, isn’t it? Through no extra effort or cost to yourself, you can easily bring gratitude into your life and joy to another person.
This Thanksgiving, if you are fortunate enough to gather around friends and family, take the opportunity to jumpstart your practice of gratitude. Notice the little things. Absorb the joy. Thank someone. Maybe together we can make this next year a little easier, a little brighter.
Interested in learning more about the research behind gratitude? https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491/full