The Importance of Integrating Gratitude into Your Day to Day
| By Jill Hecht, LCSW, MSW
The fall season is a time of year when the leaves change and we can finally pull out our cozy flannels and drink pumpkin spiced lattes.
The holiday season brings together families and friends, and Thanksgiving in particular, gives us an opportunity to acknowledge what we’re grateful for.
But what about the other 364 days of the year? Is gratitude something that we should be thinking about on those days too? The answer to this question is, yes!
We are all busy people. We work full time jobs, take care of our children, and carpool to and from activities. Our days can go by so quickly that we forget to stop and take in the beauty around us. Furthermore, our days can be so full of everyday frustrations that it’s difficult for us to notice the small victories that we feel grateful for.
Research on Gratitude
There’s tons of research published about the benefits of gratitude and its impacts on both mental and physical health. Greater Good Magazine published an article that highlights research by many leading scientists in the field of Positive Psychology (Practicing Gratitude).
Two of those scientists, Robert Emmons PH.D and Sonja Lyubomirsky PH.D, found evidence that gratitude increases positive feelings and overall life satisfaction. The article even goes as far to say that their research shows that gratitude is “one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction.”
This article also cites studies indicating benefits on physical health, such as strengthening the immune system, lowering blood pressure, reducing symptoms from illnesses and even helping us become less bothered by physical discomfort.
There are even interpersonal benefits when practicing gratitude. Greater Good Magazine shows that practicing gratitude in relationships can bring us closer to one another, and can help us be more forgiving and compassionate towards others.
How Do We Integrate Gratitude into Our Daily Lives?
There are many ways to begin incorporating gratitude as we navigate through our hectic lives:
- Create a gratitude journal.
There are many journals on the market with sophisticated covers and bindings. Purchase one and take two minutes each day to write down at least one thing you’re grateful for.
- Share your gratitude with others.
Reach out to someone in your life and let in your life know you’re grateful for them. It could be an elaborate card that you mail, or a simple text message that lets them know you are thinking of them. Any expression of gratitude counts and will be appreciated by those you care about.
- Provide visual reminders.
Create a visual for yourself with a quote or mantra. This quote is one of my personal favorites: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”- Mother Teresa
- Practice mindfulness.
As you sit in traffic or fold your laundry, practice mindfulness. Notice the sounds you hear or the auromas that fill the air. Notice the thoughts that come to your mind and allow the negative thoughts to ride through you while you consciously shift your thinking.
Reach Out to a Counselor to Help
If you’re struggling with sadness and hopelessness and finding it difficult to find anything to be grateful for, reach out for help. A counselor or therapist may be able to support you in your quest for gratitude.
Jill Hecht, LCSW, MSW
During her free time Jill enjoys spending time with her husband and making her daughter laugh. She enjoys exploring the outdoors and discovering New Jersey’s best bakeries.
Check out Jill’s professional bio here!
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