“Count your blessings.” So say philosophers, from ancient Romans to modern-day grandmothers. As it turns out, that’s pretty good advice.
Researchers have found that focusing on what we’re thankful for can increase our sense of well-being and happiness. And, the benefits may go beyond our emotional health. For example, people who make a habit of writing down what they’re grateful for report fewer physical complaints than others.
Make Gratitude Your Attitude
It’s simple—and free—to reap the benefits of being thankful. Keeping a gratitude journal is a popular way to begin. Some people choose a handwritten journal—while others might note their thoughts in an app on their smartphone or in a computer program. Here are a few tips to grow a more grateful attitude.
Have a nose for good news. How about letting your sense be your guide? Every day, list one thing about each of your five senses that made you happy. For example:
- Sight: the stack of clean laundry your partner folded
- Smell: the scent of freshly cut grass
- Hearing: the hum of a well-tuned car engine
- Taste: your first sip of morning coffee
- Touch: cool sheets on a muggy night
The art of the “thank you.” Telling people you appreciate them is another way to practice gratitude. Plus, it’s a wonderful win-win—nice for you and the recipient. So, thank your dad for teaching you to score a baseball game. Let a colleague know that his or her help on a project really made a difference. Thank your spouse or partner for a recent compliment or kind gesture. Write a quick thank-you note to a caring friend or good neighbor.
Stumped? Try This Twist
Consider things you’re grateful for because they didn’t happen. A few examples:
- You weren’t caught in rush hour traffic.
- You didn’t forget to pay an important bill on time.
- You didn’t get rained on during your morning walk.