Today is the day after the Thanksgiving holidays and we all know that this is traditionally celebrated primarily in the States. Although we don’t all celebrate Thanksgiving, we can use this opportunity to think about what we are thankful for and there are many health benefits in doing so.
Ever since I started practising gratitude in the past few years, life seems easier, lighter and happier. Trust me – it wasn’t a natural thing to do at first and I had to keep a gratitude journal and remind myself to write things down that I am thankful for. I now feel thankful over the tiniest things – for example when the tube arrives the moment I arrive on the platform to take me to my next destination and when the sky starts raining only after I have stepped indoors.
It has now been scientifically proven that practising gratitude makes us healthier. It can help you make new friends and build good relationships. If you thank a new acquaintance for help, they will feel appreciated and more likely to smile at you next time they see you and be friendly towards you. Practising gratitude can make you less aggressive as you start to be more empathetic with others and feel less aggressive as a result. You will start to feel more positive which will trigger more positive emotions that have direct physical benefits. It can help you reduce stress as you will feel more connected with yourself and your environment and that can result in better sleep.
After some time of practising gratitude, it will help you see that your internal resources are more abundant than you previously thought. You have more than you thought you did. It can also help you with your self esteem as you are less likely to compare yourself with other people.
Here are my 5 top tips to help you live a happier and healthier life with gratitude:
Surround yourself with positive imagery and quotes
Life will always have its ups and downs and I find that positive imagery and quotes help lift me up and remind me to focus on the positive things in life and be thankful. They remind me that my situation is not so bad after all and I am strong enough to overcome the challenges I face. Being thankful will help remind you that the difficult phases will pass and we have a lot of good in our lives.
Keep a gratitude/thankfulness journal
I started writing this journal because of some advice from a friend. It took some effort at first but I kept it to 3-4 times a week. It was a struggle at first to think of what to write and I always focused on the important things in my life. Over time, I realised that there were so many to write down every day that I could spend an hour writing every time. This process helped transform this mindset into a habit.
If you don’t have time for a journal, think of 3 a day
Make it a habit to think of 3 things that you are thankful for each day. They don’t have to be significant things that happened and they don’t even have to be something that happened. They can be a pretty bird flying by, the sight of beautiful autumn leaves and the fact that your best friend sent you a text message to show that they care. See what happens a month after you do this and notice the difference in your outlook.
Give a compliment every day
This is not something that you have to do directly if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Of course, try and find something that you genuinely want to give a compliment on (ie no sarcasm). You can compliment someone on their hair, their talent or you can just say it to yourself in your head. When I travel on public transport, I can always find a compliment about someone else which I say it silently in my own head. It might be a bit weird for them if I started talking to them. This habit will make you start seeing the good and beauty in most things in life.
Volunteer for a charity
Volunteering for a charity can be a very pro-founding and humbling experience. The act of helping people who are vulnerable in their difficult paths can be very powerful, even if you just sit next to them and listen to them. It also helps you realise how much you have in life and how much we can all easily take for granted.
We may not all celebrate Thanskgiving but we can start being thankful in what we have to live a healthier and happier life. Why not give it a go and start practising gratitude? You have nothing to lose. Thank you for reading and namasté.
What are your thoughts? Would you like to share any more tips? I would love to hear from you.