Break open gratitude in case of emergency — that’s essentially the conclusion that’s been reached by a wealth of research showing that gratitude has tangible benefits regarding lifting our mood when we’re feeling less than stellar.
The practice of gratitude is not just some feel-good thought exercise; there’s hard science showing gratitude affects the brain by relieving stress, improving sleep quality, and reducing depression and anxiety. With this much science backing the practice of gratitude and the fact that starting a gratitude practice is 100% free and takes only a few minutes, is there any better time than right now to get started?
First, let’s define what a gratitude practice really is. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as taking a moment to appreciate something or someone consciously, or it can be as involved as writing a gratitude journal and detailing what you’re grateful for and why. Regardless of how you practice gratitude, it’s a tremendous mood-lifting mechanism for rough days. Here are five gratitude-sparking ideas to get you started.
- Reach out to loved ones. A great way to practice gratitude is by saying the things you genuinely feel for the important people in your life. Whether to your parents, friends, or siblings, reaching out to a loved one for a quick expression of gratitude is a wonderful way to get you out of a funk by connecting to important people in your life.
- Meditate with a love-focused mantra. Meditating has as many amazing benefits as expressing gratitude, so merging the two into one practice is a supercharged method of cutting through a less than stellar mood. Find a mantra that helps you focus your mind on the love you have for others in your life and the world to reap the benefits of meditation and gratitude together.
- You may have heard of gratitude journals; these journals are specific to contemplating the parts of your life that you feel appreciation for. By writing your thoughts about what you’re grateful for, you’re able to spend more time on the consciously feeling gratitude, making a gratitude journal a super-powered pick-me-up for rough days.
- Run a thought experiment. If you’re feeling frustrated or down, take a moment to focus your thoughts into a quick experiment; imagine switching places with someone in a much worse situation than you. Consider what it might be like to be living with a terrible illness, lacking food, or dealing with dire poverty. As you consider these difficulties that other people face, you’ll be able to feel more appreciation for even the situations that previously felt like problems, such as too much work or a messy house.
- An incredible way to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for while doing valuable work is to volunteer. It’s much easier to feel gratitude for your own life when coming face to face with the difficulties in this world.
Practicing gratitude is a rewarding habit that research has shown to offer incredible benefits, including turning around a less than stellar day.