Practicing gratitude is good for your mental health and emotional well-being. Gratitude can rewire your brain so you are more likely to focus on the positive. Although there are many benefits to practicing gratitude, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Below are seven ways you can start practicing gratitude and experience the benefits of being grateful.

Why Practice Gratitude

When you practice gratitude, it has a positive impact on your mental health and emotional well-being. Your thoughts are very important. Focusing on the negative, which you are wired to do to stay safe, enhances the negative. When you shift your focus to the positive and are intentional about practicing gratitude, good feelings and happiness increases. Expressing gratitude releases the feel good hormones dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters enhance your mood and make you feel good. Gratitude helps you bond with others and improves empathy. When you practice gratitude,symptoms of depression and anxiety significantly decrease and it is easier to manage stress. Making the practice of gratitude a habit can change the neural structures of the brain to cause you to feel happier and more content.

1. Focus On The Positive

Although it may be more natural to fixate on the negative; the hurtful comments, or the things that go wrong, focusing on the positive can make a big difference. When you focus on the positive, you will start to feel more positive. Instead of ruminating on what went wrong, intentionally think about what is going right. You can start small. Think about the good things in your life, or even the good that happened during the day. Allow yourself to smile about it and let your thoughts linger. Noticing the good and focusing on it can help you feel the good feelings all over again.

2. Keep A Gratitude Journal

Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great way to focus on what you are grateful for. Writing down what you are grateful for helps reinforce feelings of gratitude. If you do this before going to bed, you might sleep better as you end your day on something positive. This is also something that you can read later to help you reflect on the good things in your life. When you focus on the good things that happened, it helps you be more aware of these things. 

3. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness, being fully present in the moment, can improve feelings of gratitude. When you are aware of what is happening around you, it is easier to tune into the things you are grateful for. Meditation can help bring your awareness to the present moment. If you are paying attention to what is happening and the feelings of gratefulness, you can experience the joyful feelings as they are happening as well as when you recall it later. Practicing mindfulness enhances the peacefulness of a vibrant sunset and the calming feeling of a loved ones embrace. This helps you feel grateful for the little things.

4. Feel Your Feelings

Spending time feeling your feelings can help you focus on your feelings of gratefulness. Although not all of your feelings are going to be positive, when you allow yourself to feel them, the positive feelings are enhanced. When you are aware of your feelings and are actively feeling them, you can experience greater joy. The more you focus on gratitude and the feelings associated with it, the more grateful you feel. 

5. Share Your Gratitude

Share your feelings of gratitude with others. Let your friends and family know that you are grateful for them and why. Point out the positive qualities that you notice in others. If you only pay attention to the negative, that is where your focus will be. By switching your focus to your blessings, you will notice the good more and more. When you share your gratitude, you will help others and yourself feel more positive.

6. Be Consistent

Practice gratitude consistently. The easiest way to do this is to plan a time of day that you can focus on what you are grateful for every day. This can be done at dinner time, first thing in the morning, or before going to bed. It doesn’t matter when or how you do it, the important thing is being consistent. Consistency over time is what makes the practice of gratitude a habit that helps facilitate the positive changes in your brain. 

7. Write To Someone

Write a heartfelt letter, text, or email to someone you are grateful for. You don’t have to send it if you don’t want to. The benefits come from reflecting and writing down what you are thankful for. If you do decide to send it, the person that you send it to will also experience the benefits of your gratitude. Sending a letter of gratitude is sure to make their day. However, simply writing down your feelings of gratitude for a person will help improve your bond and strengthen your feelings of empathy and connection.

Gratitude can make you feel good. The more grateful you are, the better you feel. Even if practicing gratitude doesn’t exactly come naturally, you can use the above tips to start switching the focus to what you are thankful for. Practicing gratitude is easy to start and is good for your overall well-being.

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