Current challenges can encourage us to reflect on what we are most grateful for in life. Cultivating gratitude can lead to amazing benefits not just during times of crisis. Some of these include:
- Improved relationships with others. Having an attitude of gratitude makes us nicer, more appreciative, enhances empathy and reduces aggression. As a result, it can help us deepen our friendships, improve our marriage and family connections, and help us develop new, positive relationships with others.
- Improved mental and physical health.Gratitude helps us to better cope with stress, increases self-esteem, and helps in boosting our coping skills when challenges arise. It also boosts our immune system. Research has also shown that gratitude can help individuals have more energy and better sleep quality.
- Career boost. Gratitude can lead to better decision making, people skills and can help boost productivity and goal achievement.
So how do we better cultivate this attitude of gratitude? Consider these four tips:
- Keep a gratitude journal Write down one or two things every day that you are grateful for. Get creative thinking of small things like having warm water for a shower or a bed to sleep in can help us develop an attitude of gratitude. Reading through past entries can also provide a positive boost when needed.
- Share your appreciation. Let others know that you appreciate who they are or what they have done. How to best show appreciation will depend on the person (a written note, a small gift, quality time together, etc.), but a sincere thank you can go a long way in making people feel good.
- Look for the positive. How we interpret the situation can impact our future thoughts and feelings. For example, when facing a challenge, look for the potential benefits such as increasing patience or empathy for others. Ask a friend or family member for help when it seems difficult to see any positives in a situation.
- Some people need a visual reminder to maintain mindfulness of gratitude. For those individuals, it may be helpful to create a list of people or things they may often take for granted and place it where it will be seen often.
If you haven’t already, consider giving yourself the gift of gratitude during this challenging time. It is free, always and doesn’t take much time. The benefits are long lasting and one of the simplest ways to improve life satisfaction.
By: Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor and relationship expert