As the month of November rolled around, we started seeing it everywhere: Gratitude challenges! Taking time to do positive acts of kindness towards others for the next 30 days or 21 days, or consciously reflecting on what we have or are to be grateful for. With Thanksgiving now less than two weeks away, many of us are already celebrating this lovely holiday early with “Friends-giving’s” or early Thanksgiving gatherings. It feels wonderful to take time to express to others and ourselves what we are thankful for, but research shows us this task is so valuable we should be practicing it year-round!
Leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons has studied that practicing gratitude has a whole slew of psychological, physical, and social benefits. These include increased optimism and happiness, reports of experiencing more joy and pleasure, lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, and even being more outgoing. With benefits like these one should surely dedicate at least the Thanksgiving month to this practice, but here’s 5 tips for continuing this act year round:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness.
- Go Through the Motions. If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude.
- Ask Yourself Three Questions. Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
- Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.
- Get technical. Of course, there’s an app for that! If you browse the app store on your smart phone, there are numerous options for Gratitude including a great app called “365 Gratitude Journal”. This little gem will send push notifications and reminders to your phone to practice the act throughout your day and help you log all things to be grateful for.
Incorporating gratitude into your daily life can be much easier than you think. So challenge yourself this month and see if you can keep it going until next Thanksgiving. What do you have to lose?