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It’s been called one of the best habits we can develop to look after our mental fitness and wellbeing, so it might be time to try practising gratitude.
Gratitude is that feeling we get when we’re thankful for a person, a situation or a part of our lives.
Practising gratitude is an active, deliberate way to help us notice the positive parts of our lives, and research shows a strong link between gratitude and wellbeing.
In this guide, we share the benefits of gratitude and some tips for making it a part of your life.
It’s likely you remember a time when something bad happened to you. These negative moments easily stick in our minds, and this means we can overlook the good bits.
When we practise gratitude, we help the positives overtake the negatives.
Gratitude gives us a mood boost, helps us to sleep better and makes us feel happier and more optimistic.
It also gives us a stronger sense of connection with our family, friends, work mates and communities, and makes our relationships stronger.
Practising gratitude is also linked with lower levels of anger, depression and distress.
Sometimes we feel grateful for someone or something in our lives, without giving it much thought. Sometimes it feels harder to think of the positives.
There are lots of benefits to noticing and appreciating the people and things that make up our lives, and the more we can do this the more we get those benefits. Putting some effort and awareness into gratitude helps us to feel those healthy emotions more often. When we actively try to do that, it’s called practising gratitude.
Over time, this practice can become a new healthy habit that makes our lives better.
Practising gratitude is quick, easy and free, so there’s nothing to lose by giving it a go. Here are some ideas to help establish this healthy new habit:
KEEP A GRATITUDE DIARY
A popular way to practise gratitude is to keep a daily journal. At the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. This helps to train your brain to think of positive things, and it’s a great record to look back on to remember all the good things that have happened.
TALK ABOUT GRATITUDE OVER A MEAL
When you share a meal with your family, friends or work mates, ask questions about what each person is feeling grateful for. Try asking: What was the best part of your day? What was a good but unexpected thing that happened to you today? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
USE AN APP TO REMIND YOU
There are lots of free apps available that remind you to focus on gratitude, and help you keep an easy journal on your device. Just search on Google for a gratitude app that you like.
NOTICE THE SMALL THINGS
While the big things in life are the most obvious gratitude targets, it’s also important to notice the small things. Think about the little way someone helped you, or that meal you really enjoyed, or the beautiful greenery you noticed while going for a walk.
FIND GRATITUDE IN THE CHALLENGES
When you’re going through a tough time, it’s natural to focus on that challenge. Try instead to spend a little time thinking about something that you’re grateful for. Finding gratitude during hard times is a powerful way to remind yourself that there are always good parts to your life.
CREATE A GRATITUDE JAR
This is a great way to involve your family in a gratitude habit. In an empty jar, each of you can place notes of the things you’re grateful for each day or each week. Over time this becomes a visual way for your family to see all the things there are to feel happy about.
WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE
Writing regular thank you notes has been shown to help us feel happier and more satisfied with our lives. Join us for Thank a First Responder Day in June each year, to publicly thank first responders for all they do. This gives a boost of happiness to both the giver and the receiver.