By Karen Rae, Founder of Balanced Life by Karen Rae® and Creator of The Signature Balanced Life Planner®
Since November is National Gratitude Month—and Thanksgiving—I thought it would be a great time to think about being more grateful. Here are some of my best gratitude practices that I hope you’ll also incorporate into your life and truly be able to enjoy.
Writing down some things you are grateful for is one of the easiest ways to practice gratitude every day. The goal of the exercise is to reflect on the past day or week and write down three to five things you’re grateful for. Some people recommend doing it every day, while others plan for it once per week. If you do it every day, it can become a practice you feel inspired to do more naturally.
Journaling your gratitude can increase your quality of sleep, increase joy and decrease symptoms of sickness. Note that paying attention to what you are grateful for will become easier as you practice. Imagine your life without the things you’re grateful for, before you begin writing. This will really boost your feeling of gratitude!
The gratitude jar is a simple exercise that can have significant effects on your well-being. You only need a few items: a jar (or a box), and naturally paper and a pen for writing your gratitude notes. If you ever need a quick pick-me-up, you can always take out a few notes to remind yourself of all that is good in your life!
Include everyone in your family; encourage everyone to add a couple of things that they’re grateful for from the past year. Read them together as a family, then read them again New Year's Day—which brings me to my next point.
Our relationships with others affect our happiness the most. Focusing our gratitude on people who we’re thankful for—rather than material items or circumstances—will enhance the benefits you experience even more. You can also include others directly into your gratitude practice. One activity can be writing a letter to someone who has impacted you significantly, whom you’ve never been able to thank. You could also talk about the moments you're grateful for at the dinner table.
Patience in Making Financial Decisions
A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that feelings of gratitude can help you fight the urge for instant gratification. Being grateful can reduce impulse buying and, consequently, insufficient savings. When you feel grateful, you’re also more likely to feel fulfilled— and less likely to feel the need for spending. Gratitude also improves generosity!
Happiness in Other Areas of Your Life
Being happy can also make you feel more grateful. There are many other ways to lift your mood, including participating in a hobby you love or exercising. Once you’re feeling those natural endorphins, feeling gratitude will get even easier.
Find Gratitude in Challenging Times
Gratitude is not only about positive things. Dig a little deeper and try to figure out how your own past experiences have helped make you the person you are today.
Think about three to five things you’re grateful for daily. Really picture it in your mind and feel the gratitude flood your body. Doing this daily will help rewire your brain to feel naturally more grateful, and you’ll begin feeling even happier after every session.
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