The importance of being grateful
First, let's define gratitude. When you're grateful, you notice and appreciate the positives in your life, whether it's people, things, or the beauty in the world around you. A grateful person can relax in the present moment and enjoy all the good that's going on.
Many studies have found that having an attitude of gratitude can improve your quality of life and even your physical health:
- Gratitude improves your sense of well-being and your psychological health. One study found that people who expressed gratitude to others and wrote down three things that went well each day were happier and less depressed than they were at the beginning of the study. Another study in teens found that those who grew up grateful were happier, more hopeful and satisfied, and had a greater sense of meaning in their lives.
- Gratitude helps you cope with stress. When you're grateful, you have a supply of positive thoughts to draw upon. You can stay centered by focusing on what you have, as opposed to what you don't. Grateful people also tend to have stronger social bonds, which can help them through stressful situations.
- Gratitude can boost your physical health. One study found that people who regularly counted their blessings exercised more and felt fewer symptoms of physical illness. The study also found that writing down what you're thankful for before going to bed can help you sleep better.
- Gratitude can help you strengthen your relationships. Researchers in one study found that expressing gratitude helped couples view their relationship as strong and stable.
- Gratitude inspires goodness. Expressing gratitude to someone makes them feel valued and motivates them to help and care for others.
How to practice gratitude
Certain things, like counting your blessings, writing thank you notes, and doing nice things for others help cultivate a more positive, optimistic outlook on life. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:
- Take a minute every day to think about someone or something you're grateful for.
- Write letters or quick notes to special people, thanking them for their role in your life.
- Keep a daily journal about things you're grateful for and things that went well during the day. If you can’t manage writing every day, try to write three things you're grateful for at the end of each week.
- Practice being mindful or savoring the present moment.
- Find a quiet, private spot and use all your senses to meditate or connect to the world around you. It’s nice to do this outside in nature.
- Think about the hard times you once experienced, and how far you've come since then. The contrast can inspire gratitude.
- Make a promise to yourself that you'll practice being grateful. Write it down and post it somewhere you can see every day.
- Give back. Rally's Health Ambassador Kevin Hart donates his time and financial support to the places and causes he cares about, including schools in his hometown Philadelphia and Children's National is Washington, DC.