Benefits of practicing gratitude

Did you know that people who regularly show and feel gratitude tend to be more optimistic and satisfied in life, have higher self-esteem and sleep better? They also tend to have stronger relationships and communities. And they may even have improved physical health. Why? Because people who show more gratitude are more likely to have fewer trips to the doctor and exercise more often.

What does gratitude mean?

By actively focusing on the positive things in your life, you  can reduce negative thoughts and feelings. When you show and feel gratitude, it helps you think of the goodness in your life, and the sources of this goodness. This can help you keep perspective and bounce back more quickly after stressful and difficult times.

Gratitude also can bring “pay it forward” benefits to others. It helps you — and those you share your gratitude with — get a boost of positive reinforcement, so they may feel more inspired to express thanks as well.

Ideas to help you get started with practicing gratitude

There are easy ways to practice gratitude and to make it a regular part of life. Here are some get-started ideas:

  • Keep a journal. Writing down what you’re thankful for causes you to really think about the positive parts of your life. This can help keep stress and challenges in perspective. It also gives you a record of positive memories to revisit and enjoy.
  • Send a thank-you letter. Take the time to write to someone, telling them how much you appreciate them. Recognizing people who make a difference in your life can give you a “happiness boost” and give them a boost, too.
  • Focus on the positive. When good things happen, take time to think about and savor them. Give yourself the time to enjoy positive emotions and experiences, and permission to celebrate your own success.
  • Make a mental note. Each day think about the good things in your life and take a mental picture. This can help you reinforce the positive memories.
  • Share the joy. Make sharing what you’re grateful for a regular part of your routine. For example, take time during family dinners or outings with friends to share three things you’re thankful for.

Ready to start your gratitude practice?

As you get started, you may see firsthand how gratitude can go a long way in helping you instill short- and long-term positive feelings. It may also help you be better equipped to bounce back from hard times. Learn more ways to practice gratitude and find other resources that can help right now.