How To Practice Gratitude In A Not-Cheesy Way Because It Actually Feels Pretty Good
While there are a million and one reasons to practice gratitude throughout the day, you're probably thinking, if one more person tells you to start a gratitude journal, you might actually want to scream into your pillow. And while I’m not negating the goodness of gratitude journals (seriously, I’m totally a fan), there are so many other creative ways to be just a little bit more grateful each day and reap the many, many benefits of doing so.
According to TIME, many studies show both the mental and physical health benefits of gratitude. From more patience, better relationships, and deeper sleep, to easing depression symptoms and increased happiness, the benefits of making gratitude a daily habit can actually be really powerful. Emma Seppala, a happiness researcher at Stanford and Yale Universities, and author of The Happiness Track, told TIME that having a partner who expresses gratitude towards you, for instance, and vice versa, can significantly improve your relationship. Sappala also notes that having “more positive thoughts before you go to sleep,” may help soothe the nervous system as you wind down, promoting deeper, longer sleep each night. So, tossing that proverbial gratitude journal aside, here are some super cool ways to practice gratitude on the daily that aren’t corny as heck.
1. Send Thank You Notes
While it might seem like an outdated gesture, thank you notes are not only pretty charming; they also feel great to receive. According to a new study from the Chicago Booth School of Business, a note or letter of gratitude provides those on the receiving end with a major boost of happiness. You don't necessarily have to hand-write your aunt a thank you note for the present she got you last holiday season, either. Try Gchatting your coworker to say thanks for looping you in on that email thread, or send an email to a writer you love to let them know you appreciate their work.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is an excellent way to show gratitude for the food we get to eat every day. Not only does it up enjoyment and digestion, according to science, eating mindfully is also an opportunity to pause and show gratitude for your food, where it came from, and for all those helped make your meal possible.
3. Ditch Clutter & Donate Old Items
Clutter-banishing guru Marie Kondo told The Guardian that while it can be tough to part with our stuff, unless "it sparks joy in your heart," it's time to let go. Kondo also suggested that before donating an item, sincerely thank it for the service it has given you, and the role it's played in your life, can help amplify your appreciation for the things you have.
4. Give An Anonymous Donation To Your Favorite Cause
By giving even the smallest amount, you're saying thank you to a cause you believe in, and helping further their mission. It doesn't hurt that there are some serious health benefits associated with giving, but why not just do this for the sake of doing good?
Volunteering your time is one of the best ways to give back to the communities and causes you care about most. Many places rely on volunteers to keep the doors open and their organizations operational.
6. Literally Just Say Thank You
Remembering simple etiquette, like thanking your barista each morning as you grab your morning coffee, is a great way to not only connect with people, but to show that you truly appreciate them. Instead of absentmindedly typing "tx," go out of your way to actually say "thank you" in full. Saying thank you is a pretty basic life skill, but it's a powerful one as you go throughout your day.
7. Pay It Forward
Doing a good deed for the day by paying it forward — like buying a coffee for the person in line behind you, or helping your neighbor who might be struggling with their grocery bags — means that we give something without expecting anything in return. Also, good deeds are contagious; by paying it forward when you can, you inspire others to do the same.
8. Put Your Phone Down When You're With Those You Care About
One of the best ways to show appreciation for those we care about is to actually be present when we're together, and that means putting our phones down. Waiting for the subway is one thing, but if you're sitting down to dinner, someone's telling you about their day, or maybe they just deserve some of your focused presence for a while, it's best to put the phones down, folks.
There are so many ways to show our appreciation for what we have throughout the day. And by training our brains to focus on the things that we're grateful for, we can actually start to feel better about our lives over time. Our actions and behaviors tend to perpetuate what we focus on most in life, so by acknowledging all the good that's already there every day, you may get more of it as you go, too.