The Incredible Power of Gratitude

Do you want less stress and improved mental health? How about the ability to gracefully accept challenging moments (or years)? If you want to immediately increase happiness and decrease feelings of anger, frustration or despair, study after study suggests looking toward the simple concept of being grateful.

However, that might seem much easier said than done. The idea of practicing gratitude can be elusive, vague, confusing and even downright silly to some. That’s why putting concrete actions into place can help get over the “woo-woo” factor of this incredibly potent idea.

Here are four ways to get practical about being more grateful. Try them out and reap the benefits of counting your blessings.

1. Have a conversation. Oftentimes, when we get together with friends or family we fall into the trap of talking about our troubles or, even worse, gossiping about other people. Those tendencies are natural and can have their time and place, but intentionally steering the conversation toward the blessings in your life can immediately change the tone and encourage everyone involved to be a little happier. Because this might not be your first instinct, arm yourself with a few prompts that can direct the dialogue. For example: Who or what has inspired you lately? What has surprised you recently? How has a recent challenging situation created positive change for you? What acts of kindness have created joy for you?

2. Start a journal. If you’d rather keep your gratitude practice private, put it down on paper. Gratitude journals are enjoying a moment in the spotlight, and there are many different versions available to purchase (For example, The Five-Minute Journal). These can be extremely helpful because they are filled with prompts that can trigger thoughts you wouldn’t have otherwise had. But, you also don’t need to overthink it. You can take a basic notebook and simply write down a few things you’re grateful for each day. Be specific and personal, but don’t put pressure on it.

3. Meditate on it. Let’s say you sit in front of a computer all day, typing out emails and to-do lists. That might leave you “list fatigued” and averse to spending any extra time writing things out. If you can’t fathom making more notes, sit in silence. It can be just as helpful. A simple gratitude meditation can look like lighting a few candles and sitting down to review all the things, people and experiences you’re grateful for in your mind. The premise is that if you list off (and possibly visualize) all the things you’re grateful for, you will eventually get overwhelmed with positive feelings.

4. Get inspired. About two years ago, author and speaker A.J. Jacobs released a TED talk about gratitude. Watch it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L375-rWJVmU). He challenged himself to thank every single person responsible for creating his morning cup of coffee. He thanked the truck drivers, the farmers, the sellers, and it completely changed his perspective on a simple daily habit. Have you ever thought about the people who make your life happen behind the scenes? Have you ever thought about those who make it possible for you to drive, live in your house, work? Maybe it’s about time you do. Take a note from Jacobs, and go deep with your gratitude.

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