Did you know that being thankful can actually improve your wellbeing? Studies show that expressing gratitude kickstarts the production of dopamine and serotonin which creates feelings of happiness. Grateful people often experience less chronic pain, reduced blood pressure and increased self-esteem. So here are a few ways you can start expressing your gratitude:
Write something that you are grateful for each day and put it in a jar. If you are feeling low, take a paper from the jar and reflect on how you are grateful for it.
Make a collage of photos that represent things that you are grateful for (people, pets, holidays, achievements). Take a look at it whenever you need some encouragement.
Reflect on things that you usually take for granted, noticing that someone took their time in making or creating an everyday object, for example. Then, reflect on a person that you barely know and how they made your day better (a bus driver, a barista, a receptionist). Then, reflect and be grateful for your own attributes and what you admire in yourself.
Write a letter to someone that contributed to your life at some point, for example a teacher, doctor, colleague. Express to that person an appreciation for the role they’ve played in your life and how you became a better person because of that. Then send it!
Remind yourself each day of some of the good things that happen in your life and express this gratitude in words. Practicing these exercises will help you appreciate your surroundings and get that positive feeling of being thankful!
Algoe, S., Haidt, J., and Gable, S. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion 8, 425–429. doi: 10.1037/1528-35220.127.116.115
Emmons, R., and McCullough, M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 84, 377–389. doi: 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1687
Kini, P., Wong, J., McInnis, S., Gabana, N., and Brown, J. W. (2016). The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity. NeuroImage 128, 1–10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.12.040
Wood, A., Froh, J., and Geraghty, A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: a review and theoretical integration. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 30, 890–905. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005