This is a guest post by Laura Newcomer – a writer, editor, and educator with multiple years of experience working in the environmental and personal wellness space. An avid outdoorswoman, she can often be found hiking, kayaking, backpacking, and tending to her garden.
There are lots of things that you know are good for you. Exercise, for one thing, leads to a healthier heart and longer life. Eating well, including cutting down on meat and integrating more vegetables and fruit, offers numerous health benefits. Changing previous bad habits—giving up smoking, for example—are also good ways to improve your general well-being.
But there are other more subtle changes you can make that may also have an impact on your day-to-day life in a positive way. The number one option? Practicing gratitude.
Gratitude, of course, makes you feel good—that’s obvious. But it does other things you’re probably not even aware of. Take decision-making: Practicing gratitude can help you make more thoughtful decisions. It can also help you be in better physical condition as well as sleep better—an amazing range of positive reactions.
But how then do we translate knowing that gratitude is good for us into practice? One way is to improve mindfulness by keeping a gratitude journal. You can do it the old-fashioned way—something that’s handwritten—or you can take advantage of electronic options such as a journaling app or a blog (which you don’t have to tell anyone about). You can also add a calendar reminder to your day, to help you put the idea of remembering gratitude into everyday practice.
What you write isn’t important; what’s important is to record your thoughts, to allow the process to influence you for the better.
One way to really kick-start improving your gratitude mindfulness is to set yourself a challenge. You’ve probably done these sorts of things before—say, an exercise challenge. The process is the same: Set a time limit (30 days is a good start) and create a gratitude goal. You can record your thoughts for 5 minutes a day.
You can find unusual ways to say thank you. Or you can follow the gratitude suggestions—recording thoughts about a friend or a memory, for example. The important thing is to work toward a gratitude practice, which in turn has benefits that will translate into improved physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
This graphic, which expertly leads you through the benefits of gratitude and the way to create a gratitude practice, is a good place to start.
Source: Fix.com Blog
What other health benefits of gratitude do you know of?