5 Ways to Practice Gratitude

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Even during transitions, there’s something to be thankful for

Gratitude is one of the healthiest qualities and emotions available to all. Being grateful improves relationships, relieves stress, improves self-esteem, and even boosts our immune system. While it is a big key to a happy life, thankfulness is often something that takes daily focus and practice, especially when going through a transition.

Turning the chapter to your next adventure can bring a mixture of emotions. Whether you are deciding to downsize, looking to relocate to a new home, or helping a parent move to a new community, it can be both exciting and overwhelming to try to imagine the future.

When faced with these times, reflecting on the reasons you have to feel grateful can help to embrace change. When we focus more on what we have, and less on what we lack, we gain perspective for the good things and the loved ones in our life.

Here are five of our favorite ways to practice gratitude:

1. Start a Gratitude Journal or Jar

One of the most popular ways to practice gratitude is creating a ritual to write down the things you are thankful for every day. Some find that keeping a journal helps to focus the mind, to write down an entry from each day about what you were thankful for. Others have found success by keeping a jar in their house, where each day they drop in a scrap of paper that they’ve written a quick note on. The key is to stay consistent with your daily writing ritual, and to carve out time to sit and read back all you’ve written, whether it is at the end of every week, month or year, to reflect on all the good in your life.

2. Find Inspirational Media

As wonderful as technology has been to connect the modern world, it is often easy to be sucked into negative media outlets. Instead of fighting with anonymous “trolls,” reading comment-board clashes or searching for celebrity gossip, devote your time spent on media outlets that promote inspiration and thankfulness.

Check out stories of others who have embraced life’s transitions with optimism and enthusiasm with our friends at Growing Bolder. Try finding a podcast focused on gratitude like “Good Life Project,” “Ten Percent Happier,” or “The Science of Happiness.” To improve the time spent on your phone, try downloading an app designed to focus the mind on thankfulness, like the “Gratitude App” or “Presently.”

3. Give Back

A great way to recognize all the things to be thankful for is through volunteering and giving back to others. Not only is it a grounding experience, volunteering offers perspective to view life through someone else’s eyes. Whether it is cleaning up our planet, helping someone in need, or simply assisting a neighbor, there are volunteer opportunities in every neighborhood that can enlighten your own view on the world.

4. Connect with Your Spiritual Side

There are countless ways to connect with your inner spirit. It could be in a formal or informal religious community, simply walking in nature, practicing meditation, or even time spent observing the stars. Whatever best aligns with your belief system, focusing on spirituality offers time for pause and reflection, and helps to look at our surroundings and appreciate our place in the universe. It allows a chance to slow down and think about the things bigger than ourselves and form a better perspective on the things that matter most in life.

5. Change Your Language

No, this doesn’t mean learning Spanish, French or Portuguese. Instead, begin paying close attention to your word choices every day. Start by just making sure you say “thank you” every time someone does something for you — even the smallest gestures done by family members. Remove yourself from situations focused on gossip or complaints. When you acknowledge something negative, such as an ache or a pain in your body, try to balance it out with a positive, like identifying how nice it is to be able to be enjoying the fresh air. In the end, you are reframing your brain and how you view the world. It’ll become easier each day to become more appreciative of others when you start with the words coming out of your own mouth.

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