How to Be Thankful

Recognizing even the simplest things can increase happiness.

It’s easy to take everyday things for granted, but practicing gratitude can have many positive benefits. Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychologist from the University of California, Davis, discovered that those who regularly notice and reflect on what they’re thankful for experience more joyful emotions, fewer anxious feelings, less depression, more engagement in their lives, better sleep, the ability to express increased compassion and kindness, more fulfilling relationships, and stronger immune systems.

This applies to both major events and simple encounters.

Here are a few strategies to get started on daily gratitude practices:

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Strengthen your reflection skills. One of the cornerstones is being able to recognize what we’re grateful for. Use a journal, or place notes in a gratitude jar—and read them periodically to remind yourself.

Be specific. Sharpening your gratitude skills helps change the way you perceive situations. Shifting your attention to positives—especially when you’re struggling—opens thinking and helps you find solutions. Gratitude also bolsters feelings of hopefulness and resiliency.  

Share your feelings. Involve the important people in your life in your gratitude practice. Write them letters, or make a point of directly expressing your feelings. This will enhance feelings of connection and intimacy. Studies consistently show that relationships are strong determinants of happiness.

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