We often take for granted what we should be thankful for most. There can be many benefits of practicing gratitude daily. When you learn to recognize the situations in your life that you should be grateful for, you can be healthier both mentally and physically, and more resilient when challenges come your way.
It’s never too late to develop a practice of gratitude as a way of being. Without gratitude, you only focus on what is missing. With gratitude, you celebrate what is there.
Same picture. Different experience.
Below are just a few of the many benefits of practicing gratitude that you can expect to experience.
- Healthy Relationships
Being grateful every day means telling the important people in your life they matter. This leads to greater connection and satisfaction, improving your relationships on a daily basis. They want to be around you and often will repay the gratitude. Take the time to express how grateful you are for others, rather than leaving it unspoken and assumed.
- Stress Relief
When you experience mental and emotional stress, your body releases stress hormones. These impact your body in a negative way and can cause physical and emotional health issues. The stress relief you receive from being thankful leads to a healthier body and mind.
Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
- Better Sleep
The exact scientific and physiological connections between gratitude and better health are still not entirely known. But, that doesn’t mean that the positive effects noticed in those practicing gratitude can’t be tracked. One benefit studies have found is that those who regularly express and practice gratitude have healthier sleep patterns. This better quality of sleep leads to better mental and physical health.
- Expressing Gratitude Makes You Happier
There have been several studies that show how keeping a daily gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being. In fact, writing down the things you are grateful for every single day can increase your health, well-being, and happiness level by more than 10%.
- Gratitude Beats Depression
The Positive Psychology Progress study wanted to see how practicing gratitude daily would affect those dealing with minor depression. The results were nothing short of astounding. While keeping a gratitude journal, the subjects “lowered depressive symptoms by 30% for as long as the practice was continued.” When those same subjects took the time to make a physical visit to express their gratitude, that single visit “reduced depressive symptoms by 35% for several weeks. “
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What’s next? If you want to experience some of the many benefits of practicing gratitude daily, it all begins with making it a habit.
Below are several small actions you can take that will have you well on your way to developing a daily gratitude practice.
Choose one or two to begin with. As you become consistent with those and begin to notice the benefits, feel free to begin adding in more.
- Write a Thank You Card
Take time to send someone a handwritten card of thanks. Don’t email or text them. The time that you take to express your feelings by writing them down means more lasting rewards than using any form of digital media.
- Make a Gratitude Calendar
On your “gratitude calendar”, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for each day. After writing them, read them out loud. Keep this calendar where you can see it as a constant reminder to yourself.
- Say It Out Loud
Each day, pray to the Lord, “I’m grateful for…” It could be important provisions, events, or people in your life. Thank Him for the many blessings.
- Practice “One Person A Day” Gratitude
Pick a different friend, family member, acquaintance, coworker, or service provider each day of the year. Tell them that you are grateful for their presence in your life. This works in a couple of ways. It lets people know that you care about them and appreciate them, and it also encourages you to expand your circle of influence.
- Donate – Give Away
You may lament the fact that you don’t have as many clothes, pairs of shoes, or possessions as you would like. Find someone who has less than you. Give them something of yours. This can quickly make you realize how much you really have and the added benefit of simplifying your life while blessing someone else.
- Show Gratitude Toward Yourself
Go to the nearest mirror. Do you see that person staring back at you? Frequently look yourself in the eyes and express gratitude for who you are, your unique gifts and strengths, and how God is continually working in your life and transforming you.