One Daily Practice for a Better Life

Busy lives create busy minds. The nonstop thoughts that compete for our attention every day are not always positive ones. Sometimes, a steady stream of stress and negativity play like a continuous news ticker in our brains. Fortunately, we all possess a powerful inner tool to reorder this stream and refocus.

This tool, or habit, is the incorporation of daily gratitude.

Does gratitude actually work?

The concept of gratitude may seem a light and easy, feel-good idea at first blush, but scientific studies reveal there is a positive impact from gratitude put into practice within people’s lives. Specifically, Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a world-renowned gratitude expert, shared a long list of scientific results in the spring issue of Mandala from the Center for Spirituality & Healing. His findings are fascinating:

  • Keeping a gratitude diary for two weeks produced a 28% reduction in perceived stress in perceived stress in healthcare practitioners.
  • This gratitude diary also produced a 16% reduction in depression.
  • Gratitude is related to 23% lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • Dietary fat intake is reduced by as much as 25% when people are keeping a gratitude journal.
  • Writing letters of gratitude reduced feeling of hopelessness in 88% of suicidal inpatients and increased levels of optimism by 94%.

Furthermore, psychotherapist, Amy Morin explained in Psychology Today that gratitude improves physical and psychological health, sleep, and self-esteem.

Too good to be true, and true

So, why not? It’s free. It’s easy. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, and anytime. No special skills or equipment needed. Make it a point to pay attention to positive things in your life. People. Pets. Pizza. Big, small, whatever. Focus on the good things that enhance your day and make you happy.

Grab a pen and paper, make a grateful list, start an appreciation journal, write a letter of thanks, or just sit still for a few minutes—reflect on your gratitude every day. There is so much power in this simple practice, and the result just might be a welcome reprieve from a busy mind and an elevated sense of joy and satisfaction in your life.

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