Thank you.” This phrase is said so often that it has nearly lost all meaning. It’s just good manners. When I say to my two young boys “Say Thank You”, they do (because mother knows best!), yet they don’t really know why they’re saying it. It’s a hard concept for children to understand at first.

So What IS gratitude?

The Oxford dictionary defines it this way:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Here’s how gratitude shows up in my life:

My morning ritual: Every morning when I wake up I spend a few minutes in bed with a list. It’s a list of the people and things and experiences that I am thankful. I read it before my day starts on purpose. As a gentle reminder that no matter how the day unfolds, I am a lucky girl with a great life filled with things to be grateful for.

My daily ritual: When my cup is so full that it spills over, as is often the case these days (Yes!), I pay my gratitude forward – with sincerity, not obligation. I make a call. I send a card. I go to see the people I am grateful for. And I tell them and show them gratitude.

This got me to thinking: How do others practice gratitude? Do they truly know what they are grateful for and do express it?

Gratitude is good. There are many reasons to practice gratitude.

  1. Gratitude increases empathy and reduces anger. In 2014 Forbes Article about the 7 Scientific Benefits of Gratitude, one study reported that grateful people are more likely to behave kindly, even when others behave less kindly.
  2.  Gratitude improves physical health. In a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences they reported grateful people experienced fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier thank other people.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  4. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons.

Now, get grateful!

Start a daily gratitude practice. Here’s how:

  1. Start a gratitude journal
  2. Everyday make a list of 3 things your grateful for
  3. Send a card to someone who you want to thank at least once a week or more

Little things to get you started, once you start it will gain momentum and will become part of your everyday.

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