The Gratitude Challenge: Simple Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice

Grateful Lady“What we think, we become.”
— Buddha

What boosts your mood, lowers your blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system? The answer may surprise you. It’s gratitude.

Turns out, people who make a point of being thankful for the blessings in their lives feel better than those who do not. Studies show they experience more joy, act with more compassion and even feel less isolated.

Here at Pharmaca, we understand how important the mind-body connection is to your overall wellbeing. And we know that spending just a few minutes a day practicing gratitude can impact your health. Below are some simple ways you can start your own gratitude practice.

Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day in a notebook. (Or, just jot them down on your calendar.) Be sure to be as specific as possible. For example: “I am grateful for my strong legs and powerful lungs.” Not, “I am grateful for my health.”

Send a thank you letter. Take a moment and express gratitude to someone you’ve never properly thanked with a short, handwritten letter. This can be especially powerful if you write to someone with whom you share a complicated history. The trick is to be as genuine as possible.

Share during dinner. Like saying grace, have your family take turns expressing their appreciation for specific things that happened during their day. Be sure to acknowledge each person’s contribution before going on to the next person.

Use visual reminders. Inspirational messages, quotes and uplifting pictures around your home or office can remind you to stop, breathe and remember to focus on gratitude during your busy day.

Read inspirational material. Autobiographies, blog posts, Facebook feeds—there’s a never-ending supply of sources that can move you to appreciate all of the good in your life.

Take a gratitude walk. Slow down, be in the moment and notice your surroundings. Take in the birds singing, the clouds rolling by, the rustle of leaves in the trees. Pause and appreciate the beauty nature offers us each and every day.

Notice the lesson. Think about a hardship you’ve experienced—losing a loved one or job. What did you learn from the situation that you can now be grateful for? When you find yourself being negative, stop and reframe your thoughts to find this positive point of view.

Get support. Find a similar-minded group of people who focus on practicing gratitude, like a meditation group (learn more about how to get started with a simple practice). If there’s no one in your local community, look for one online—or challenge your friends to share what they’re grateful for every day for a week through social media.

Have other great ideas about how you incorporate an attitude of gratitude into your daily life? Tell us your favorite way to practice gratitude below.

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