Celebrating a month of gratitude

The benefits of giving thanks are many

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we turn our attention toward gratitude. And while many of us this time of year reflect upon the gifts we’ve been given in our lives, it turns out we should be practicing gratitude year-round. Gratitude, in a sense, is the gift that keeps on giving, as it has many lasting benefits.

If you take a few moments to think about it, you can likely remember several things others have done for you for which you’re grateful. Maybe someone showed you extreme kindness. Maybe someone was patient with you or especially compassionate when you were struggling with something. Or maybe someone did something remarkable and selfless for you, something you can never repay. Did a friend set aside time to help you with a project? Or did someone help you learn a new skill? By calling these events or gifts to mind with gratitude, we begin a powerful process that can actually improve our lives.

So, what are the benefits of adopting an attitude of gratitude? Let’s take a closer look.

Having an attitude of gratitude: how it pays you back

Here are some of the many ways that being grateful can improve our lives.

You could live longer

Want to live longer? Being optimistic and positive has been shown to increase life span. As a result, it is widely believed that being grateful can actually increase your longevity.

Being grateful makes you a happier person

It’s scientifically proven that gratitude not only makes us feel good in the short term, but it helps us notice the goodness that’s all around us on a regular basis. Some studies have shown that gratitude can even permanently increase your level of happiness–above the level you regularly experienced in the past. In addition, some studies even show that gratitude may help reduce the symptoms of depression, by placing focus on what others are doing for us, versus self-directed criticism.

Your stress levels could be reduced

Gratitude is shown to reduce stress hormones in the body while increasing a hormone known as DHEA, which demonstrates physiological relaxation.

You could strengthen your coping strategies

Resilience allows us to overcome in the wake of setbacks or difficult situations, and gratitude is shown to increase resilience. Why? Because when you have an attitude of gratitude, you see the bigger picture, and bad events or stress hold less power over us.

Your health and well-being could improve

Research shows that people who practice gratitude often enjoy better, deeper, longer sleep, because their positive emotions activate a relaxation response in their nervous system. In addition, gratitude is shown to reduce blood pressure and strengthen a person’s immune system.

Tips for practicing gratitude regularly

Now that you know some of the many benefits of having an attitude of gratitude, you may be wondering how to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life. First, adopt a practice of mindfulness, so that you observe all of the moment-to-moment magic around you: the way the wind plays with the tree branches, how the sunlight changes color throughout the day, the giggle of a baby, the tears of happiness in a friend’s eyes. Second, you may want to begin keeping a journal where you can record the things that made you grateful throughout the day. Or you might just incorporate a nightly practice of recalling to mind some of the gifts for which you are grateful, before you fall asleep at night. Choose whatever practices work best as a regular addition to your life, and you will begin to feel the benefits of adopting an attitude