Erica Chats: The Benefits of Daily Doses of Gratitude

Erica and friends at the Texas Selfie Museum

Do you practice gratitude in your daily life? If not, you should.

I know. Life is hard. But before you roll your eyes and turn the page, consider the effect embracing gratitude could have on your life.

Research shows that gratitude leads to a happier, healthier life. But what exactly is gratitude, and why is it so good for you?

Gratitude is defined as a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation. It involves recognizing the positive aspects of one’s life and being thankful for them. Some people describe gratitude as a sense of abundance, where they feel like they have enough of what they need and more. Gratitude can be directed towards good things that have happened in the past, as well as the present and future.

One study found that people who actively practiced gratitude reported feeling more positive emotions, slept better, and experienced fewer physical symptoms of illness than those who did not practice gratitude. Other studies have found that people who are more grateful are better able to cope with stress, feel more connected to others, and have improved relationships with those around them.

Erica’s dad, John with her daughter, Ella

I can attest to the research. I feel like I have always been a “glass half full” type person, but a few years back I was challenged in an area of my life. Though I appeared perfectly fine on the outside, the sadness I felt on the inside consumed me. Then I realized I was looking at things all wrong. I wasn’t expressing my gratitude for the lessons I was learning.

Absolutely, life will throw curve balls and difficulties. Some of those challenges will stay with you forever, like loss and tragedies, but every chance you can, look for the areas you can be thankful. Once I started looking for what I call “blessings” in every situation, and expressing my gratitude, the worry and stress started to fade into the background. Of course, the change won’t happen overnight. Over time, these little tokens of gratitude will add up. Soon, you will look back and think, life is pretty good. I DO have so much to be thankful for.

Some simple ways to start incorporating daily gratitude (even on the hard days):

  1. Keep a gratitude journal – Jot down something quick each day that you are thankful for. Set a routine to do it at the end of your day or first thing in the morning.
  2. Smile more – It can boost your mood and make those around you feel better. Even when you don’t feel like it, watch your mood and interactions improve over time.
  3. Say thank you – Saying thank you to someone who has helped you or shown kindness towards you can strengthen relationships and increase positive feelings.
  4. Practice mindfulness – Focusing on the present moment and being aware of what you are experiencing can help you appreciate the small things in life.
  5. Volunteer – Volunteering at a local shelter or food bank can help you appreciate what you have and bring a sense of fulfillment.
  6. Write a letter of gratitude to someone in your past – It could be a teacher, boss, or friend who influenced you. If you’ve had a tough relationship with someone, maybe write and thank them for the lessons you’ve learned through the difficulties.
  7. Compliment people you don’t normally praise – Look for things you admire in people, even if you don’t see eye to eye. Be sincere.
  8. Embrace natural beauty – Go outside (or look out the window) and find something beautiful to appreciate, such as the brightness of sunlight, flowers blooming, or the way the wind rustles the trees.
  9. Do not gossip or speak negatively – We have enough negativity in this world. Challenge yourself to refrain from work or family gossip.
  10. Spend quality time with your loved ones – Our lives often get so busy that we “don’t have time” for distraction-free moments with those closest to us. If necessary, schedule quality time like the important task it is.
  11. Be kind – Kind deeds, no matter how small, can have a significant impact on both others and you. Look for opportunities to show kindness each day.
  12. Value your friendships – Good friends don’t come along every day. They bring joy and support to our lives, so don’t take those relationships for granted. Send a random text to say thank you for being a great friend. This works for loved ones, too.

The DeLong family: Boston, Easton, Erica, and Ella

Try a few! Incorporating gratitude into your daily life may take some effort, but the benefits are well worth it. From improved mental health to stronger relationships, gratitude can have a positive impact on many different areas of your life. Take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for today. Also, don’t forget to be thankful for how amazing YOU are.

I’m always a message away if you ever want a listening ear or to keep me updated on the progress you’re seeing. @EricaDeLong on social platforms.

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