Gratitude is a popular buzzword that we often associate with the Thanksgiving holiday – but the truth is that, the simple act of being thankful is a practice that we can implement every day of the year.
Consider the idea that ordinary life is something to be grateful for. Are you alive? Do you have air to breathe, food to eat, people who care about you? Often, the things we take for granted are also those that we come to appreciate most.
Gratitude is also an expression that works wonders on our bodies, minds, and souls. On the most basic level, gratitude increases happiness—if we choose it and take responsibility for our own attitudes. Look for proof of this in people you know who are happy in their own lives.
More than likely, they appreciate themselves, others, everything they have, and things they experienced. People who approach everything they do with gratitude are always aware of what’s good in their lives—and attract success as a result.
Here are three of the many ways being thankful contributes to a successful life.
1. Gratitude Promotes Physical and Mental Wellbeing
Science is catching up with what people in some of the healthiest and happiest places in the world have known for years: gratitude and a positive attitude are good for body and mind.
Recent studies at the University of California suggest that being thankful can lower anxiety and depression; improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and emotional responses to stress; decrease anger; and increase sleep quality.
Physical and mental well-being and the ability to recover quickly from stress while avoiding illness are key to improving performance. And, ultimately, success in athletics, business, and life.
2. Being Thankful Enhances Relationships
Telling a friend, coworker, or family member that you appreciate them is one of the simplest acts of gratitude. It makes you a positive force and attracts others to your energy. Humans are wired for connection; and the strength of our relationships can enhance or detract from our personal and professional growth.
Saying “thank you” acknowledges someone’s time, effort, kindness, or attitude, as well as the person’s very being. Picture the boost that you get from being recognized for any action, big or small. Take time to remember and practice being thankful to the people who have a positive impact on your life —including yourself.
3. Being Thankful Breeds Joy
Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives, according to Brené Brown, a shame researcher at the University of Houston. We often reverse the cause-and-effect—we believe that joy is what allows us to feel thankful.
However, Brown’s research suggests that a tangible gratitude practice, beyond just an “attitude of gratitude,” actually leads to joyful living. Positive affirmations (written down or said aloud), journaling, goal setting, and vision boarding are all simple ways to express gratitude.
Try this: on separate sticky notes, write down five qualities you appreciate about yourself, starting with the word “I AM”. For example: “I AM fearless” or “I AM strong”.
Place these on your bathroom mirror, your car steering wheel, or in your wallet. Say the affirmations aloud whenever you see them. You can use this same practice with people or things in your life for which you are thankful.
Choosing gratitude over fault-finding—in yourself and in others—and negative self-talk can drastically shift the course of your success. Fault-finding limits how we view ourselves and other people, which ultimately caps what we are able to achieve and the support we can provide to others.
Focusing on what is good in your life and being kind and appreciative to yourself will translate into being kind and being thankful to everyone around you. Start shifting your mentality today: slow down, intentionally pause, and make a conscious commitment to personal growth.
This commitment to gratitude is NOT a passive act. It takes dedication, mindfulness, and selflessness. It requires us to look at the bigger picture over our day-to-day challenges. It asks to trust that the outcome we are looking for will manifest.
Check in with yourself regularly with the simple statement: “I AM grateful for___________.” The act of directing your attention back to this idea, over time, will make gratitude an integral part of your thought process.
Practice Gratitude for Success Today
Gratitude also is not about making the “right choices” or forcing false positivity into our lives.
It is about directing our focus to the people, projects, and places that build us up. If we pursue our passions with appreciation and gratitude for what we already have, and believe that what we want is possible and deserved, success is the result.