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  • Gratitude

    “Thankful, Grateful, Blessed.” “Too blessed to be stressed.” “Attitude of gratitude.”  We’ve all heard these and many other variations urging us to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t.  But is there something to be said for these reminders often found on greeting cards, mugs and wall hangings?  Turns out, science has repeatedly shown there are many health benefits resulting from an attitude of gratitude.  Some of these include:

    • Enhancing feelings of empathy and reducing feelings of aggression.
    • Improved self-esteem.
    • Better sleep patterns.
    • Reducing social comparisons.
    • Improved relationships, both platonic and romantic.
    • Improved physical and mental health, including increased resilience.

    Gratitude, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a feeling of appreciation or thanks or the state of being grateful.  Gratitude involves recognizing the positive things in one’s life and how they affect you.  Living one’s life with gratitude is known as the practice of gratitude.  Like a meditation practice, there is no finish line; no absolute; no point where an individual is “done.” As one incorporates gratitude into one’s life, it becomes easier and quicker to reach that mindset.  So, how does one go about this?

    • Saying “thank you.” This can be in the form of thanking a person directly or writing a thank-you note.  It doesn’t matter if it’s for a past or present deed; there is no expiration date on expressing gratitude.  And bonus! If you’re not in position to say something in person or send a note, just mentally thanking a person works, too!
    • Keeping a gratitude journal. Try writing down 5 things a day that you are grateful for.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter: a beautiful sunrise, good coffee, certain friends and family members.  See how your mindset shifts after you’ve done this for a few weeks on a daily basis.
    • Prayer and meditation. Gratitude allows us to connect to something larger outside of ourselves.  With prayer (whether it’s denominational or not), allows us to tap into a sense of awe and appreciation.  We become more aware of and thankful for the air we breathe, the world we live in and our own bodies that take us from point A to B.  Meditation, with its focus on being in the present moment without judgment, leads to the same outcome.
    • In relationships. Studies show that expressing your gratitude within your relationships leads to an increase of positive feelings and an increased feeling of comfort and safety when expressing concerns.  This healthy, open conversation is a cornerstone of all strong relationships.
    • Past, Present and Future. Somewhat like in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the exploration of the past, present and future, we can practice gratitude by first thinking of positive memories and being thankful for those.  Next, take some time to be present in this moment without taking it for granted.  We can then take these positive feelings and optimistic attitude with us into the future.
    • Gratitude jar. As you go about your daily living, when you think of something that you are thankful for, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar.  Do this as often as the thoughts come to you.  When you’re having a day where you’re not feeling so great, shake the jar and take out one of those slips of paper.  You’ll have a reminder of something you appreciate, big or small.  Being reminded of what one feels grateful for can help shift one’s mood towards a more positive space.

    Gratitude is a simple thing to incorporate into one’s life, requiring just a small amount of time and little to no money, yet has such far reaching, positive outcomes.  As with many things, a new skill takes practice.  Some of the activities mentioned above may feel awkward at first.  Over time, however, with regular practice, they will become easier and more quickly incorporated into one’s life.  “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” ~Aesop

    Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, August 14). Giving thanks can make you happier.  Retrieved from

    Fulton, B. (2020, October 27). The benefits of gratitude and how to get started. Retrieved from

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