To be grateful can be a useful tool in your life.
Science suggests that expressing gratitude boosts both your health and spreads happiness around you. Here are a few simple exercises to help you build your capacity for gratitude.

We say “thanks” a dozen or more times a day: when someone holds a door open, bags our groceries, puts a report on our desk. It’s a reflex, an unaware reaction to simple daily happenings. We just say it, most often without really acknowledging the person we’re thanking. It is like a routine.

Yet as easy as it is to engage in a “thanks—no problem” exchange in our daily routines, we’re often left, in moments of larger generosity, feeling unworthy or embarrassed by what’s being offered. If you’ve ever thwarted a friend’s attempt to treat you to dinner or received a gift that you insisted was “too much,” you may be struck by that thankfulness gap.

So, if “thank you” is too easy to say in some instances, and out of our reach in others, how can you go beyond a muttered “thanks” to one that’s truly underpinned with gratitude? And why would you want to?

Well, here comes 2 Reasons to Practice Gratitude…

1) It’s Good for You

Turns out, there’s a great deal to be gained from truly feeling grateful. Research has linked gratitude with a wide range of benefits, including strengthening your immune system and improving sleep patterns, feeling optimistic and experiencing more joy and pleasure, being more helpful and generous, and feeling less lonely and isolated.  

2) It’s Good for Your Relationships

Think back to that impulse to rebuff a gift or gesture for being “too much.” What would happen if you didn’t get involved in your minds story, and instead allowed yourself to let that gift, that kind gesture, really sink in?
To just feel…grateful? And if that still feels difficult, you can always consider this:
There’s scientific evidence that feeling and expressing gratitude in relationships of all kinds strengthens them. Researchers from both the University of North Carolina and University of California found that gratitude acts as a “booster shot” for romantic relationships. And a review of close to 100 studies by researchers at the University of Nottingham determined that those who feel and express gratitude tend to be pro-social—kind, helpful, and giving.

A Simple Gratitude Exercise

Building your capacity for gratitude isn’t difficult. You just need to practice.

The researchers at Indiana University did a further study. Using an fMRI scanner, they compared brain activity in a group of gratitude letter-writers with a group who didn’t write a letter. The letter-writers showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision-making—and the effect persisted three months later. “Simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain,” they concluded, noting that practicing gratitude can lead to greater sensitivity to the experience of gratitude in the future. And that bodes well for everyone.

  1. Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction?
  2. Pick one interaction a day. When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say thank you. And if you feel like it – add exactly you feel grateful for.

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