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The Mindful Benefits of Gratitude

Sometimes it’s all too easy to let negative thoughts take over. But our mental state and physical health are inextricably linked. Negative thoughts and stress often present in the physical body in a myriad ways, from headaches and stomach-aches to supressed immune systems.

In today’s busy world, self-reflection and improvement can feel like more to-dos on an already full list. But taking just a few minutes out of your day to reflect, write down or verbalize what you have to be grateful for can have a huge impact on your mental state, health and quality of life. Here are just a few of the mindful benefits of gratitude.

  1. Improved Relationships: Whether friendships, business connections or family relationships, showing gratitude for the people in your life can have a huge impact on the quality and longevity of those relationships. Having strong connections around you is not only beneficial for your mental health, they can also lead to new experiences and opportunities. 
  2. Effective Stress Management: Daily life is full of stressful situations, and being grateful can improve your ability to deal with adversity, helping you handle whatever life throws your way. Practicing a gracious attitude can greatly reduce negative emotions such as, guilt, resentment, and frustration, reinforce positive emotions such as happiness and optimism, and lower levels of depression.
  3. Improved Physical Health: Grateful people often report feeling less pain and feeling healthier, according to a 2012 study published in the online journal Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people also tend to take better care of their health—exercising more often, going to the doctor and being more conscious of what they eat.

By practicing gratitude as part of your daily routine you can begin to reap its benefits. Here are a few simple ways to start feeling and realizing what you are grateful for in your life.

  1. Focus on Achieving Goals: Self-reflection, an essential part of gratitude, also plays a role in achieving your goals. Taking stock of your life and being aware of what you want for yourself helps in setting goals, and putting in the work to make them a reality. 
  2. Live in the Moment: Be present and try to focus only on what you are experiencing in the current moment. Break the cycle of being concerned with rewriting the past or controlling the future. Let the mind be free to be present and content with what is. 
  3. Start a Gratitude Journal: Take a few minutes either at the start of each day or right before bed to list what you’re thankful for. It could be something positive that happened during your day or something or something in your life you are thankful for. Doing this will help shift your focus from the negative to the positive.

Don’t forget to thank those who contribute to your life even in the smallest ways with a simple spoken thank you or a note. You’ll find that the effect is cumulative—the more you practice gratitude, the more grateful you’ll become.  

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