Giving thanks isn’t reserved for the Thanksgiving table. In fact, when practiced regularly, gratitude can have some pretty amazing effects on your mental and physical health. Here’s how to make a daily — not annual — habit out of giving thanks.
Sweat the small stuff
Promotions, vacations, amazing, life-changing moments… they don’t always come around as often as we’d like. But if you look, you’ll find plenty of small stuff that’s worth a big dose of gratitude. Whether it’s a relaxing night in with Netflix, not hitting any traffic on the way home, or free bagels at the office, take note of the little things — they add up!
Write it down
When big life stuff in weighing on you, it can be hard to remember those small things. So make a habit of writing them down! There are even journals and apps just for daily gratitude notes. Keep a notebook by your bed and, before bed or first thing in the morning, write down things things you’re thankful for — and don’t worry, a few sentences is plenty. According to researchers, you should start seeing the positive effects pretty soon. One study found that after two weeks journaling their gratitude experiences, people showed significantly increased happiness, greater satisfaction with life, and higher resilience to stress.
Sure, you love your family and friends. But that’s a given — and it can feel kind of dull to write that day after day. Instead, focus on the little details that make you so grateful for those people, like your spouse bringing you coffee in bed this morning, or the sweet thing your mom said to you last time you got together.
It can be hard to notice all the things in your life that you’re grateful for when you’re busy just getting through the day. So make time — in between packed work days and evenings out, first thing in the morning on your way to the coffee machine, or before you tuck yourself into bed, spend 10 minutes practicing mindfulness meditation. Apps like Headspace can help you quiet the noise.
Actually say “thank you”
When you appreciate something or someone, don’t keep it to yourself. Thank your mom for the birthday card. Thank your barista for keeping the amazing lattes coming. Thank your co-worker for helping out on a project. Everyone loves to hear it — and it’ll help make you more aware of what you’re grateful for. Saying “thank you” can even cause a domino effect — researchers have found that expressing gratitude leads to people becoming more trusting with each other and more willing to help each other out.
Set aside a moment every day
Maybe a daily list isn’t for you, or you’re just building up to 10 minutes of mindfulness. In that case, take a moment — and make it a habit. The walk from the parking lot to your office? Spend that minute thinking about what you’re grateful for that day. Making your morning French press? That’s a minute you can spend being thankful — not least of all for caffeine.
Bottom line? Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a slog. And it doesn’t have to be saved for a special occasion either — just a moment a day can go a long way.