For years gratitude seemed like a common sense part of a healthy emotional life. Then studies came out that proved it: gratitude reduces aggression, improves empathy and sleep, and even improves physical and psychological health. Why is that?
At its core, gratitude shifts your focus. It can help you realize the truth of the saying that happiness is not about wanting the things you don’t have, but appreciating the things you do.
But people aren’t usually going to fight back on this. There aren’t really “gratitude skeptics” who don’t believe gratitude offers real physical and psychological benefits. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is practicing gratitude in an intentional way that can offer life-changing benefits. What are a few ways to be more intentional about practicing gratitude?
Send Thank You Notes
This used to be something that many people were taught growing up: send thank you notes when kindness or hospitality is shown to you. The “technology” still exists to do that today. If you don’t have your own stationery, you can find some basic cards at the store. If you don’t even want to do that, there’s always email. Just send a note thanking them and letting them know why you appreciate what they did.
Thank Someone Mentally
It won’t always make sense to send a thank you note, so sometimes what can be helpful is a mental thank-you. This puts a marker for that gratitude in your mind which can help you thank them in person or in another context in the future.
Use a Gratitude Journal
This is a classic way to reframe your day, then your week, then your month, then your year, then your life. By marking down anywhere between 1-3 things that you’re grateful for each day (one to start is plenty) you have a chance to see how many things are going right for you. That can be really helpful on those days when it feels like nothing is going right!
Thanking people in prayer or meditating on moments of gratitude are yet another way to bask in the benefits we have and sometimes don’t fully appreciate. It’s one more channel to reflect on the positives in life when there are so many ways that forces would like us to focus on the negative.
Gratitude works just as well in the workplace as it does in your personal life. Managers who remember to say “thank you” to team members may find that employees feel motivated to work harder. Gratitude is one of those things in life you can’t ever have too much of.
This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club newsletter.
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