Countless studies from renowned organizations including Harvard Health and PsychCentral confirm that making gratitude a daily ritual leads to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Thanksgiving is a natural time to reflect on our relationships, health, financial blessings and all that is good. As a psychologist in the Denver metro area, I witness the transformational power of intentional gratitude in the daily lives of clients from all walks of life. As my Thanksgiving gift to you, here are five ways I encourage clients to incorporate this daily practice into their lives -- and I encourage you to chose gratitude daily to live a more fulfilling life!
1. Connect with a written note.
Grab a sticky note or greeting card and make gratitude a daily ritual by reaching out to one person daily to share how much they've positively influenced your life. Leave a sticky note on a co-worker’s desk, tuck a folded card into your child's lunchbox or spouse's briefcase, send an email to a former supervisor who inspired you, text a sibling, call a parent, and so on. Simply, make someone's day by pointing out what a positive influence they’ve been in your life.
Use the breath to connect to blessings of the past, present, and future. Reflect on the good that helped you get to this point in life, what's currently supporting your growth, and finally, visualize the blessings yet to come. Giving thanks, while manifesting the ideal future, helps you stay focused on your path while showing reverence for the instrumental blessings along the way. Meditation takes just 5 minutes of quiet time each day and has a lasting impact, reducing stress and supporting happiness.
3. Practice the art of savoring.
Giving thanks for all that nourishes us is often overlooked in a rapidly-changing world and convenience culture. Once a day, take a moment before a meal to savor all the nourishes you including friendship, love, health, financial security, food, and shelter. Reflecting on the larger community and ecosystem makes us not only thankful, but connected to the collective power of this planet.
4. Keep a gratitude journal.
Chances are, you've heard of this practice before, and it's arguably the most profound way to make a big impact on your happiness. Not only does writing things down make them more top-of-mind, the ability to re-read the inspiring moments of days prior makes this a powerful keepsake overtime. Simply commit to downloading a list of all that you're grateful for at the end of each day, whether that be one, or one dozen things.
5. Transform loose change into blessings.
At the end of the day, instead of unconsciously adding loose change to that "saving for a rainy day" vessel, mindfully add each coin while reflecting on a blessing you feel that day. A related idea is spending the time in your car at red lights naming all that you're thankful for. Transforming mundane moments into opportunities for thanksgiving daily creates associations that make habits stick.
Most research, including a study by Psychology Today, suggests that it takes between 21 and 66 days to form a habit. Get a jump start of the quintessential New Year's resolutions by committing to a simple, guaranteed way to boost your health and happiness in the holiday season and beyond. As a relationship therapist to individuals in Denver, it’s clear that all happiness starts with loving yourself and your life -- and the daily practice of gratitude is one way to cultivate that important self-love. Happy Thanksgiving -- from my heart to yours.
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