Get Happier by Practicing Gratitude
Living in today’s world means being inundated with airbrushed pictures in magazines, Facebook posts that imply our friends’ lives are perfect, and advertisements designed to make us want more, more, more. With those kinds of messages being pushed on us all the time, it can be easy to compare ourselves to others and feel “less than,” like we’re not good enough, attractive enough, or rich enough. We can get caught up in the things we don’t have or that we wish we could change — and that’s not exactly a recipe for happiness.
But positive psychology research shows that people can become happier by practising gratitude. In fact, being grateful helps us focus on positive emotions and experiences, feel more optimistic, and even enjoy better physical health.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
So how can you practice gratitude and start reaping those benefits? One of the most common techniques is to keep a gratitude journal: take a few minutes every day to write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be broad — like having a loving spouse or being financially secure — or specific — like getting a great workout that morning or having a fun evening out the night before. Putting these down in writing draws our focus to them, helping us feel more grateful.
You might also try recalling at least one of them first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Focusing on things to be grateful for just before getting up and falling asleep bookends the day with gratitude.
Expressing thanks is another way to practice gratitude. While many of us are quick to thank a family member or coworker, going an extra step can make a difference to both people. Instead of just quickly saying “thanks,” see if you can take a moment to mention why you appreciated what the other person did or how they helped you.
And giving thanks doesn’t stop with others: it’s also important to offer thanks to ourselves. Did you squeeze in a workout, cook a healthy dinner, or help your child with their homework? Don’t forget to thank yourself for the effort you put in — you deserve it.