As Thanksgiving comes and goes each year, it’s not hard to remember to practice gratitude when there is an entire holiday dedicated to being thankful for what we have. However, what happens when the season of giving and being grateful is over? With the prospect of final exams rearing its ugly head in the days following our annual practice of gratitude, it is all too easy to lose sight of those feelings of thankfulness when all we can focus on is studying for exams. However, gratitude is not something that requires an entire day of dedication to be useful: we can practice feelings of gratitude in everyday life, contributing to an overall more positive and healthy mindset.
Gratitude is also not a complicated concept to integrate into daily life. At its core, gratitude can be as simple as just telling someone “thank you” or making a mental note of something that we feel grateful for. A great way to start practicing daily gratitude would be beginning (or ending) each day by jotting down just five things we’re grateful for, and this can really be anything from items to people to relationships. The most important aspect of practicing gratitude is that we center our mindset around positive thoughts and remind ourselves of the aspects of our lives that bring us joy.
Not only does gratitude help make us feel more positive, studies actually show that practicing gratitude can make us happier. In this Harvard study, participants showed a huge increase in happiness after writing letters of gratitude and saying “thank you” for just one week, with benefits lasting for a month! Now imagine how much that happiness would be magnified if we practiced gratitude every week of the year. We would be much more happy and grateful individuals, while also making others’ lives brighter along the way.