We’ve all heard about the importance of an “attitude of gratitude” and how great it is for our health. But between jobs, traffic, families, medical issues, and hectic everyday life, sometimes we can have a hard time remembering to pause and take stock. There are many ways we can express our gratitude to others, to the universe, and to ourselves, but what is really important is that we create the habit of acknowledging that gratitude in the first place. Finding things to be grateful for, and being able to express our gratitude are skills that need to be built up in us, much like the muscles you would use in your abs during a good, hearty belly laugh with friends. Like any new habit, an attitude of gratitude takes consistent practice to reap the rewards.
Here are a few ways to flex your inner gratitude muscle so you can help build a stronger, healthier attitude of gratitude without even trying!
- Try each day to say a genuine “thank you” to someone you encounter. It could be someone who holds open the door for you, the administrative assistant who checks you out at the doctor, or a construction worker who is fixing the road you drive to work. This can be done out loud and to the person, and bonus points for making eye contact and stopping to truly express yourself, or it can be done in silence on your own. It can even be that small but much appreciated “wave” when someone lets you in during your traffic-filled morning commute.
- Find one thing about yourself to be grateful for each day. Yes, I know, dear readers, this is not nearly as easy as it sounds — but it pays itself off exponentially in health benefits. Are you grateful that you are a person who does the dishes right when dinner is over and never goes to sleep with a full sink? Gratitude! Are you thankful that you are living a life with a house full of people and a sink full of dishes that never get done? Gratitude! Are you glad that you spent the hour after dinner sitting and talking to a spouse, relaxing on the couch, or playing a board game with kids, and you forgot you even had dishes filling up the sink? Gratitude! It really is all about the attitude and what matters to YOU.
- Taking a moment to acknowledge and be grateful for the food that is about to nourish us — from the farmer who planted and tended the seeds, to the worker who harvested the plants, to the supermarket employee who put it on the shelf, to whomever it was who cooked and prepared it for us (bonus points if it was you, because then you accomplished two steps at once!) — helps us enjoy our food and our lives more. Pause and be mindful and appreciative before you eat, and you’ll find that slowing down by that fraction will help alter your outlook immeasurably.
I’m so grateful for you for looking to me as you honor your commitment to improving your health and happiness!