January 29, 2014

Turning Gratitude into a Habit

When I was growing up, before I would go to bed my dad would ask, “what are the three things you are grateful for?” This ritual ingrained my gratitude as a habit at a young age and now manifests itself in a couple different ways.

Here are a few ways that I habitually express my gratitude:

I say three things that I am grateful for before I go to bed. By doing this, I am able to reflect on what happen over the day and take time to process it after the fact.

I share the things I am grateful for with a friend. This shares similar benefits to reflecting by yourself, but adds the benefits of dialog around why you are thankful for something.

When I am feeling upset or unhappy, I sit down and write out everything that I can think of that I am grateful for. This is a great practice to help ground yourself in times of struggleI send a lot of thank you notes to show my gratitude for others. It is worth sending a note even if all you write down is “thank you.” Getting in the habit of sending handwritten notes can be hard, but it is rewarding. To make it easier, I always have thank you notes in my bag, pre-stamped, and with my return address written down long before I know who I will send it to. This helps me avoid making excuses for not writing them. Writing notes also provides a unique way to reflect on my time with that person and it often makes me think of new reasons to be grateful for them.

Scientific research has proven that “creating the habit of gratitude is something that will serve you in all areas of your life. Those who are grateful have less resentment and are usually happier people.” All in all, these practices are not quick fixes and won’t get you fast returns. But, by taking time to give thanks everyday you slowly start to appreciate everything and everyone in your life.

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