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World Gratitude Day-Top 5 Ways to Practice Gratitude in Your Life

Updated: Nov 9, 2022


September 21st is World Gratitude Day. It is a day devoted to taking time to slow down and to take note of the things in your life be grateful for. Gratitude Day was created in 1977 by Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual teacher who worked to promote peace within the world and in individuals. He taught and practiced meditation regularly and worked with different religious or political organizations such as the United Nations. His teachings focus on a love for others, a connectedness to spirituality, meditation, and service to the others and the world. Gratitude day began in 1977 when he led the opening meditation for the meeting of the United Nations (1).


Taking time to be grateful and appreciate the things that you have in your life has been linked to positive health outcomes such as:

-Lower Rates of Anxiety, stress, and depression (2 and 3).

-Higher self-esteem (4)

-Better sleep (5)

-Lower blood pressure (5)

-More optimistic outlook on life(6)

-Higher satisfaction in romantic relationships (7)

-Better immune system and overall health (8 and 9)


What this looks like

1.Gratitude journallry easy habit to implement that can have substantial impacts on your mental health and outlook on life. Below I have a few different things that I recommend to clients of my own and also implement into my own life.


Gratitude journal

Most people have heard of this type of activity or something similar at this point. This is simply taking the time to write down something that you are grateful for in your life. It only takes a few minutes and it doesn’t need to be anything too crazy. It is simply the intentional act of taking the time out of your life to sit down, think about these things, and then write them out. I believe that writing them out makes them stick with you a little bit more and research supports that doing so with pen and paper is more effective than on a device (10). This can be a great way in which to start your day with something positive or end it by looking back at something in a positive way.


2. Write a Gratitude Letter

Recognizing that you are grateful for someone in your life can be great; but telling them can be even greater! Taking the time to write a letter to a friend, significant other, relative, or co-worker can be beneficial for you as you take the time to to write out the letter and process the memories and emotions tied to that relationship and will also be great for that person reading the letter. Remember you don’t need to overthink it too much as that might hinder you from starting the letter just be thoughtful and true in the reasons in which you are grateful for that person.



3.Share Gratitudes with a Loved One

This may be similar to the previous one and yes there are some similarities. However, there are some differences you can add to this one. You can either share things you are grateful for with someone else in your life or you can take turns telling that person reasons that you are grateful for them. My wife and I try to do this on a regular basis in our own marriage and it is a good way to reflect on our day and share that with each other. It builds emotional intimacy and connectedness in the relationship and is also great for us as individuals to look back at the day in a positive way in order to process it and learn to appreciate all the good that we have.



4. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to slow down to connect with ourselves. Some may be intimidated by the idea of doing meditation but it can be as simple as you want it to be. Starting off you may want to just take one deep breath and try to just focus on that and slow down your breathing as much as possible. Other ways may include setting a timer for a set amount of time. During this time you can focus on your breath, things you are grateful for, or something around you such as the leaves blowing on a tree. There are also guided meditations on Youtube or other apps such as Spotify. These can be a great start for those not knowing where to begin. Some even focus on gratitudes in your life.


5.Take Time to Reflect on Difficult Circumstances

This may seem counterproductive at first but after thinking through it you may realize how impactful it may be on the gratitude you may have in your life. It makes sense why this might be the case as well. It is the times in our lives in which we may have felt stuck or in crisis that we have to look back at some of the positives in our lives. If we were in between jobs we may be grateful for the people who let us stay with them for a time. If we struggled financially we may be grateful for the strong work ethic is helped us create or the way we now handle and budget our money. If we had a health scare at a young age we may be grateful for how it helped to create a wakeup call for the lifestyle changes we made. We often look back at hard times in our lives in a negative way and not wanting to be there again, and for the most part that is probably true. However, if we don’t look back at those hard times we lose a great opportunity to be grateful for all we have now and what we were able to learn from that time in our life.




I hope that this time of the year your are able to slow down and find some things that you can be grateful for in your life. Yes today is Gratitude Day and I think it is great to have a day like today to slow down and to remember to be grateful. However, being grateful should be something that you find ways to incorporate into your life on a daily basis. It can be a simple activity that can have huge impacts on your overall mental and physical health and lower your levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. It is worth the time your put into it! Being grateful and in a better mood not only impacts you but also the world around you which is a great start to some of the little changes that make larger differences in the world and society. It is worth the time your put into it!





References

  1. Sri Chinmoy - Sri Chinmoy's Official Site. Sri Chinmoy - Sri Chinmoy's official site. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.srichinmoy.org/sri_chinmoy

  2. Cregg, D.R., Cheavens, J.S. Gratitude Interventions: Effective Self-help? A Meta-analysis of the Impact on Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. J Happiness Stud 22, 413–445 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00236-6

  3. Cheng ST, Tsui PK, Lam JH. Improving mental health in health care practitioners: randomized controlled trial of a gratitude intervention. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2015 Feb;83(1):177-86. doi: 10.1037/a0037895.

  4. Lung Hung Chen & Chia-Huei Wu (2014) Gratitude Enhances Change in Athletes’ Self-Esteem: The Moderating Role of Trust in Coach, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26:3, 349-362, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2014.889255

  5. Jackowska M, Brown J, Ronaldson A, Steptoe A. The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep. J Health Psychol. 2016 Oct;21(10):2207-17. doi: 10.1177/1359105315572455.

  6. Isabel María Salces-Cubero, Encarnación Ramírez-Fernández & Ana Raquel Ortega-Martínez (2019) Strengths in older adults: differential effect of savoring, gratitude and optimism on well-being, Aging & Mental Health, 23:8, 1017-1024, DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2018.1471585

  7. Algoe, S. B., Gable, S. L., & Maisel, N. C. (2010). It's the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 17(2), 217–233. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01273.x

  8. Moieni, M., Irwin, M. R., Haltom, K. E. B., Jevtic, I., Meyer, M. L., Breen, E. C., Cole, S. W., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2019). Exploring the role of gratitude and support-giving on inflammatory outcomes. Emotion, 19(6), 939–949. https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000472

  9. Boggiss AL, Consedine NS, Brenton-Peters JM, Hofman PL, Serlachius AS. A systematic review of gratitude interventions: Effects on physical health and health behaviors. J Psychosom Res. 2020 Aug;135:110165. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2020.110165.

  10. Mueller PA, Oppenheimer DM. The pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychol Sci. 2014 Jun;25(6):1159-68. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581. Epub 2014 Apr 23. Erratum in: Psychol Sci. 2018 Sep;29(9):1565-1568.

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