Between the whirlwind of 2020 and the fact that Thanksgiving just passed, gratitude is something we’ve been thinking about a lot. During unsettling times, leaning on what you’re thankful for can make such a huge difference in our ability to move forward with resilience. The science behind gratitude is staggering: those who make it a habit to reflect on the meaningful moments and relationships in their lives see a measurable improvement in quality of sleep, expression of positive emotions, and even in the strength of their immune systems.
In the spirit of showing thanks and cultivating healthy habits, here’s a roundup of four simple ways to start (and stick to) a gratitude practice.
Gather your gratitude tools
So, how do you start practicing gratitude? It’s incredibly simple: grab a notebook, a pen, and a 5 minute chunk of time each day. Write down three things you’re grateful for. Close the notebook. Return to your chaotic daily life. Repeat. Some people prefer to write their gratitude list in the evenings, as a way of reflecting on their day. Others find the morning, before the hustle and bustle begins, to be a more clear-headed time. Experiment with timing to see what feels most effective for you.
Think long term
Like most things that are good for our wellbeing (eating mindfully, exercising, etc.) practicing gratitude one time will not leave you suddenly feeling healthier. It’s about long term, daily commitment. Of course you’ll miss a day here and there...that’s to be expected. But the idea is to do it often enough that it becomes almost automatic, so you return to the habit time and time again. It’s a gradual process, but also very rewarding. Being able to read through previous gratitude lists is an amazing way to ground yourself and see the positive change in yourself over time.
While it might be tempting, especially at first, to just write “My family” every single day, the beauty of an ongoing gratitude practice is that it gives you a daily chance to step back and really get thoughtful about what brings you joy and warmth. Instead of “my husband,” for example, maybe extend upon that thought: “today my husband had coffee waiting for me when I came downstairs to the kitchen.” Challenge yourself to get as specific as possible with what makes your heart happy.
Learn to share
Sharing gratitude lists with a few close, trusted friends can be a great way to further strengthen those relationships while also adding a sense of accountability to your new habit. Consider creating a group text where each person shares one thing from their list each day. Better yet? Channel your gratitude for others into letters to loved ones, expressing how thankful you are for them, and why. Especially w ith the holidays coming up, a heartfelt, handwritten letter of appreciation would make for a touching, thoughtful gesture.
Practicing gratitude is such an easy, effective way to boost your health from the inside out, and engage more mindfully with your life and those around you. We hope this list has inspired you to adopt an attitude of gratitude. And for the record...this amazing Shapermint community tops our list. It’s such an honor to serve you and your curves.