Gratitude is a state of readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. Gratitude practices occur when individuals actively foster gratitude in their life through daily rituals.
Many studies have shown that exhibiting gratitude is associated with less stress, more positive relationships, fewer healthcare needs, and a longer lifespan.
The positive effects of gratitude have primarily been identified among those who demonstrate it consistently.
In other words, it has to become a habit!
Descriptions of the first two gratitude practices were sent out by email. Some additional information about each, as well as additional gratitude practices, are listed below.
Most of us start our days waking up and thinking immediately of all we have to do that day. This ramps up our stress response. Instead, we can activate positive emotions and remain in control of our day by starting our day out with gratitude.
- Before getting out of bed, think of a person that is worth a trillion dollars to you. Picture that person's face and send them silent gratitude.
- Next, think of a person you haven't seen in a long time. Picture that person's face and send them silent gratitude.
- Repeat as much as you'd like, up to a total of 2-3 minutes of time. That's all it takes!
Studies also show that winding down the day with consideration of what you are grateful for fosters better sleep and can improve overall mental health.
Before going to bed each night:
- Write down three good things that happened over the course of the day and reflect about their causes.
- Keep track of these things in a journal at your bedside or through a mobile app. Several are available for free through both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store:
- 3Good Things
- Three Good Things
Inclusion in the above list does not imply endorsement.
Pick a time (or multiple times) each day to stop, take a moment, and fully savor whatever you are experiencing in that moment using all of your senses.
Remember that our goal is to engage in our gratitude practice daily.
Examine some of your own past experiences that were difficult. How have these experiences shaped you into the person you are today?
Take time to appreciate this growth.
Imagine that the little things in your life are scarce. Contemplate what life would be like without these things.
This can also be utilized by healthcare professionals to put yourself in a patient’s shoes and imagine how things in your own life would change if you had the same illness they did. How can this inspire gratitude for your own health?
Consider how you can contribute positively to someone else's day by using one of your signature character strengths via a comment, action, or favor. Perhaps for one of your patients or colleagues? Perhaps for a family member or loved one?
Place an object somewhere in your house or workspace that will remind you to feel grateful each time you look at it.
It can be a little sign that says "thank you" hanging in front of your desk, a sticky note with a happy face taped to your mirror, a ring or necklace that you wear every day, or something else. Really, anything you designate for this purpose will work.
Exercise courtesy of daringtolivefully.com.
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