Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the holiday often brings to mind family gatherings, American football, and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. But if you’re feeling particularly stressed or frustrated, consider practicing intentional gratitude to improve your mindset.
Instead of only being thankful during Thanksgiving, why not try saying “thanks” for the whole year? Intentional gratitude can greatly improve your overall well-being.
While hard work produces wonderful results, even the best of us forget to celebrate the little victories, especially if we are too focused on reaching our goals. If we keep this up, we might find ourselves eventually being unable to celebrate any of our achievements. (Related: Research says gratitude can reverse aging, stress and ill health.)
To maintain a healthy outlook in life, consider being a more thankful person. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for crossing off everything on your to-do list, and keep reading for the five scientifically-proven benefits of intentional gratitude.
- Gratitude helps improve your memory – A study at the Department of Psychology in Spain has proven that gratitude can help sharpen a person’s ability to remember information. When you take the time to say “thank you,” you can be a happier person as well.
- Gratitude gives you a sense of peace and minimizes aggression – Studies from various labs and research centers often conclude that by practicing gratitude, we can “lessen aggression and increase compassion.”
- Gratitude improves physical health – A study published in Personality and Individual Differences proved that thankful individuals “experience less physical pain” simply by being grateful.
- Gratitude improves empathy – Researchers at the Greater Good magazine studied how appreciation affects the brain, and they discovered that being thankful helped increased brain activity “in the areas responsible for compassion, understanding and connection.” This increase in activity resulted in people being able to relate to others better and improved problem resolution and emotional intelligence.
- Grateful people sleep better at night – Writing in a gratitude journal before turning in for the night can help you get a good night’s rest. A study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being in 2011 proved that an individual who spent at least 15 minutes taking note of “a few grateful sentiments before bed” experienced “more profound sleep.”
4 ways to practice intentional gratitude
As Thanksgiving approaches, now is the perfect time to learn more about intentional gratitude. Try these four ways steps to be more thankful each day and make your life better.
- Think of new things to be thankful for daily – Be specific when writing in your gratitude journal. Realizing all sorts of things to be grateful for will ensure that you never run out of positive thoughts. Don’t just say “thank you” for things that happen to you personally. Be more in tune with the world to make the most of intentional gratitude.
- Be sincere about your gratitude – Don’t just automatically be thankful for the same thing, especially if you don’t feel like taking the time to write in your gratitude journal. You don’t have to force yourself to write in it if you’re too tired. Just remember to leave a note in your journal the next day when you’re feeling better.
- Be thankful in your own way – It’s all right if writing in a journal isn’t something you’re interested in. You can easily think of new ways to give thanks. Try making your own gratitude jar and fill it with slips of paper full of the things that you are grateful for.
- Practice intentional gratitude in a social setting – How we relate to others also affects our happiness. Make sure that you also show your appreciation for all of the people that make you smile each day. You can even send a personal letter to someone that you want to thank properly, or talk about your gratitude at the dinner table.
You can learn more about mental health and positive thinking at MindBodyScience.news.