The holiday season is the perfect time to give thanks, express gratitude, and celebrate family, friends, food, and connection. But research suggests that gratitude is something we should cultivate on a daily basis, not just during the holidays. Experiencing gratitude is strongly related to well-being, leading to physical, psychological, and interpersonal benefits. It is a powerful force that we can use to expand our joy and happiness, create loving relationships, and improve our health.
People who cultivate a grateful outlook tend to:
• feel better about their lives as a whole and more optimistic about the future
• have more energy, enthusiasm, determination and focus
• make greater progress toward achieving personal goals
• sleep better and awake feeling refreshed
• exercise more regularly
• feel stronger and more resilient during challenging times
• get sick less often and experience fewer symptoms of stress
• enjoy closer family bonds and more positive social relationships
Here are three ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis:
1. Keep a gratitude journal – make a list of things for which you are grateful. By consciously focusing your attention on life’s blessings, you invite more goodness into our life.
2. Write a thank you letter – write a letter to someone who has had a profound and positive impact on you. Express gratitude for all the gifts you've received from that person. If possible, deliver your thank you letter in person.
3. Take a gratitude walk – set aside 20-30 minutes to walk in your neighborhood, a park, around your office or somewhere in nature. Pay attention and be mindful of all of your senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, maybe even tasting. Notice all of the things you can be grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.
Emmons, R.A., and M.E. McCullough. 2003. Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective wellbeing in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol 84(2):377-89.
Wood, A.M., J.J. Froh, and A.W.A. Geraghty. 2010. Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clin Psychol Rev 30(7): 890-905.