[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]M[/su_dropcap]any see the holiday season as a perfect time to pause and reflect on all that we are thankful for. Expressing gratitude for a loving family, a warm meal and a happy home are common around this time of year, but why must thankfulness be only a seasonal act? Why not express gratitude every day of the year?
A recent Harvard University study found that expressing gratitude can actually increase happiness. The participants in this study were each asked to write a few sentences on a particular topic at the end of each week for 10 straight weeks. One group focused on writing about what they were grateful for that week, a second group wrote about daily irritations and a third group wrote about events that affected them that week (with no emphasis on those events being positive or negative).
What were the results? Those who focused on gratitude each week were “more optimistic and felt better about their lives,” as well as exercised more.
The study also explained that gratitude can be expressed in multiple ways. People may focus on the past by being thankful for positive memories and a healthy childhood, the present by being grateful for good fortune and the future by staying optimistic. Regardless of how gratitude is expressed, the Harvard researchers claim that it is a practice that can be learned and strengthened over time.
So, how can we implement this practice into our daily lives? The study suggests a few ways to cultivate gratitude: write a thank-you note, thank someone mentally, keep a gratitude journal and meditate.
Don’t underestimate the power of expressing gratitude not only during the holiday season, but throughout the whole year as well. Give thanks everyday and see for yourself how gratitude is the healthy attitude.