Want to know one simple, three-minute practice that will change your life?
Start a gratitude journal.
That’s right. Gratitude. It’s the word of the decade.
You are probably sick of hearing it, but do me a favor and read to the end of this post.
I’m here to tell you from personal experience that practicing gratitude actually works. It has changed my life over the past two years.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Science backs me up. Study after study reveals that a simple gratitude practice can make us happier, healthier, and even richer.
Why Practice Gratitude
Research has documented hundreds of reasons to practice gratitude. Some of my favorite reasons why to practice gratitude (along with the research to back them up) are below.
1. Being Grateful Makes You Happier
Numerous studies show that being grateful will make you happier. One great place to start is the book, In Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. In one of the author’s studies, he found that people who practiced gratitude for just a few moments each week felt happier and more optimistic about their lives.
2. It Helps People Cope With (and Ward Off) Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety levels were already at an all-time high globally before the pandemic. Since the pandemic started, they have gotten worse. The good news is that practicing gratitude has been shown to help people cope with and/or ward off symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.
3. A Gratitude Practice Will Help You Sleep Better
4. Gratitude Will Improve Your Physical Health
Research has shown various ways your physical health improves with gratitude. One study found that higher levels of gratitude were correlated with less inflammation and improved blood vessel function for patients who had heart attacks.
Another study found that heart rate variability improved when study participants practiced gratitude.
As a side note, having high heart rate variability is highly correlated with overall health. If you own an Apple Watch or heart rate monitor, you can use the Apple Breathe App or various free Apps for your phone to check your heart rate variability.
5. Gratitude Will Make You Rich
Perhaps my favorite study about gratitude reveals that gratitude may actually help you get rich. Specifically, gratitude counteracts what is known as “hedonic adaptation.”
Hedonic adaptation is when we get used to positive improvements in our lives. In turn, we don’t enjoy them as much as we once did.
For instance, when you first buy a new car or a bigger house, you are really pleased with it. Then, over time, you get used to these nice comforts and you no longer appreciate them as much.
So what happens? You start buying bigger, better stuff to make you happy.
By establishing a regular gratitude practice, you’ll be content with what you have. Being content with what you have is one of the best ways to grow wealth.
How to Practice Gratitude
There are a couple of recommended ways to practice gratitude.
My personal favorite is to keep a gratitude journal. This is as simple as reflecting on 3-5 things from your day (if you journal at night) or from the day before (if you journal in the morning) and writing them down.
It doesn’t matter if you keep the items to read at a later time (though that can be rewarding). What matters is the regular routine of practicing gratitude.
The second key aspect to getting the most from your gratitude practice is to avoid making generic statements. For example, avoid generalizations like “I’m grateful for exercise” or “I’m grateful for my kids.”
Instead, try to visualize your daughter’s sparkling eyes or your son’s bright smile and how they lit up when they told you a joke. Or, picture the time when you rode your bike around the park. Try to relive the moment in your mind.
Have you established a gratitude practice? Why or why not?