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With Thanksgiving coming, it will soon be time when people gather around to say what they’re thankful for. Thanksgiving is typically a time to express our gratitude, but what about all the other days? It’s important to express gratitude in your day-to-day life.

Gratitude means being thankful or appreciative for something that a person receives. Incorporating gratitude into your daily life can have various benefits for your life, improving both physical and mental health, fostering better relationships and improving things like one’s generosity and compassion. Gratitude can boost one’s happiness in life because it allows you to be grateful for what you have right now instead of resentful of what you don’t.

How to Practice Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude starts with being more mindful, noticing the good parts of your life. Being more mindful can help you recognize both the positive outcomes and where they came from. For example, you can feel all this joy in your day and recognize that a part of that goodness came from something external to you – a kind stranger, good weather, loving parents or your love of life in general. Gratitude grants us more clarity, allowing us to see the sources of goodness that are usually right in front of us.

It’s easy to be cynical of life, and sometimes this is many people’s default setting. Generally, people express negative self-talk or display negative emotions from what they perceive as bad experiences. When you’re able to shift that mindset and switch out ungratefulness for gratitude, you’ll be less inclined to take things for granted. Gratitude makes you want to leave pessimism and comparison in the past. Expressing gratitude doesn’t mean that we won’t have negativity in life, but it means that we can accept certain situations for what they are without so much bitterness and resentment.

3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

  1. Keep a gratitude journal
    • Every day you could write down three things that you were grateful for from the day before in the morning, or find three things you were grateful for from the day you just had.
  2. Express gratitude to someone else
    • Handwritten notes of gratitude can be given to others to show your appreciation to another person. However, in this day and age, a text or loving FaceTime call expressing these emotions can suffice just as well.
  3. Remind yourself to not focus on “lack”
    • Let go of thoughts that focus on what other people have. Let go of the notion that you may be “lacking.” something in comparison to someone else. Appreciate what you have and who you are, and try to be grateful for that.
Kaylah Young is a junior at VCU. She is majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism, and she has a minor in Political Science. Kaylah has a passion for writing, reading books, and working out at the gym.
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