We all have bouts in our lives where we feel gratitude towards others for doing something special for us but what would happen if we made gratitude a daily part of our lives? There are many different physical, emotional and mental benefits of practicing gratitude.
- Stronger immune function and better overall health.
- Increased positive outlook and overall feelings of happiness along with reduced feelings of negative physical symptoms.
- Reduced stress and improved mood.
- Improved cardiovascular function, reduced cortisol and better heart rate variability (HRV).
How can you add more gratitude to your life? It can be as simple as thinking about 1-3 things you are grateful for upon waking or before you fall asleep. It can also be more in depth by creating a gratitude journal, where you write down your feelings of gratitude on a daily basis. You could even write a gratitude letter to someone that has had an impact in your life. I've been thinking through three things in the morning and some days it's harder than others, but there are always at least three things I can be thankful for. I would like to involve my family so I'm going to add it to our dinner discussion, which currently includes the following questions:
- What was the most fun part of your day?
- What was the hardest part of your day?
- What was the silliest part of your day?
- Now I will add - what or who are you most thankful for today?
Here are some other ideas to involve your kids, as kids that practice gratitude are more kind to others, get better grades and care more for the environment.
- Share stories of others practicing gratitude to help younger kids understand what it means.
- Make small, unexpected gestures of gratitude a part of your lives, such as leaving a post-it note of thanks when a family member helps you out.
- Encourage kids to start their own journal.
- Include a statement of thanks with bedtime hugs or prayers.