Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are upon us, and though you’re likely busy preparing, we encourage you to take a few minutes to consider the role that gratitude plays in your daily life. While most of us will say “thank you” a few times per day, adopting an attitude of gratitude goes further than acknowledging a favor.
What is an “attitude for gratitude?”
Actively focusing on gratitude means finding things to be thankful for even if the circumstances are challenging or negative. An example is choosing to be grateful that your coworker approaches projects differently than you do because it allows for collaboration, compromise, and an end-product that exceeds expectations, as opposed to being frustrated by their communication style.
The benefits of gratitude
There have been many scientific studies conducted that prove physical and mental benefits of maintaining a gratitude-focused mindset. Some of these include:
Fewer aches and pains: Grateful people report fewer injuries and daily pains to their physicians, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Furthermore, these people are more likely to take care of their health, probably because they are more keenly aware of how much better life is when you feel good physically.
More friends: A study from 2014 found that people who make a point to thank acquaintances and strangers report an easier time making new friends. This also sets the tone of the new relationship to be more positive and reciprocal than a friendship that started on a neutral or negative basis.
More happiness: Researcher Robert Emmons has published many articles on how being grateful reduces depression and makes us feel happier. It makes sense that seeing the glass as half-full has this effect.
Better sleep: Counting your blessings before bed has been shown to lead to fewer sleep issues, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, tossing and turning, night terrors, and sleep cycle interruptions.
How to practice gratitude
Maintaining an attitude for gratitude can be difficult with stress, life changes, and events that are truly distressing, but it is possible! If you find yourself forgetting to see the good in situations, set an alarm to sit down and write out things you’re grateful for each day. Resolve to spend about 10 minutes listing these things, and use the full time. After a while, we bet you won’t need the alarm and 10 minutes will go by in a flash. Eventually, your brain will click into this mode on its own as you’re going about your business.
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