Gratitude has been a huge part of shaping my life positively. I grew up chronically depressed, over-medicated, and socially ostracized. Looking back now, that was largely a situation I created for myself, and it was a situation I decided to change. When I seemed to have nothing in life going for me, it was not until I realized that I needed to identify things in a good way in order for them to be good. Slowly but surely I did start to see good in things, and create good in my life. 

Today I pretty much bathe in gratitude constantly, I am loaded with projects that I absolutely love and am thankfully paid to be a part of. I work my butt off for pay, and in my spare time on things that matter to me (like this blog) constantly. I am never bored or lonely. I love to work, and I am so grateful of the way I make a living. I am still always learning, and I am so thankful for that also. I find the more gratitude I have, the more I have to be grateful for. This is why I want you to know the wonderful benefits of finding gratitude and some fantastically simple and easy ways to have it in your life starting today, and maybe forever.

I have my own feelings and experiences about gratitude, but I wanted to do some actual research for this article. So grateful I decided to! Anyways, the results these people came up with are incredible. Gratitude literally creates happiness. I could have spent days, there is so much research out there, but many results are saying the same thing. 

Positive psychology is saying that gratitude is essential to a high satisfaction with life, it improves positive affect. People who practice gratitude reported a better outlook on life, more daily satisfaction, less depression, and more sleep. A study of over 2,000 teenagers showed that gratitude is associated with less psychiatric problems, less drug addiction, and generally can’t coexist with negative emotions. In targeted studies, gratitude intervention groups showed marked improvement in just weeks or months using simple techniques like writing letters to or about people they appreciated, or recounting past events that benefited them. People who tested with negative attitudes before these interventions, improved through them generally across the board. There are companies out there like HeartMath helping people with stress and chronic health problems using gratitude exercises. Research has associated gratitude with other great emotions like love, forgiveness, and practices that increase or focus on mind-body connection like meditation, and yoga.

So if I was able to gain your interest, here are 8 easy ways to cultivate gratitude in your life today

1.  Focus on a happy memory that you appreciate for 1-3 minutes. Think of the details, and try to remember what made it meaningful. Anywhere, anytime. Especially if you aren’t feeling your best.

2. Meditate. People participating in research who meditated regularly felt gratitude more easily. Try h=Headspace, or Insight t=Timer apps on your phone they are free.

3. Get a 5 minute journal, and fill it out every day. It will ask you every day what’s great, and how you can make it great. If you are new to gratitude, it can be surprisingly life changing

4. Think about something in your life you enjoy, and appreciate the decisions you made that eventually brought that to your life. Getting a new job, leaving a bad relationship, making a great purchase, helping someone out. It could be anything, don’t forget YOU did it.

 5. Practice mindful movements like yoga, posture therapy, pilates, chi-gong, martial arts, gymnastics, parkour, aerial arts, or really anything that will make you more present in your body. Research shows that increasing your mind-body connection will make gratitude easier.

 6. Thank people often for specific things that you appreciated. They will love it, and you will feel good for doing it. I find things come to me more easily, and children behave better in my classes because I will give thanks where it is due.

7. Whenever something ‘bad’ has just happened to you, say, ‘Good!’ and then say something you can now do as a result of the changed situation. If you get a group or a family to do this regularly, it can also be hilarious! For example, I was listening to a book in my car today and did not take the correct exit to the dentist. I said, ‘Good! I wanted to listen to my book longer.’ Broke my new laptop screen with a plate, “Good! I wanted a glossy screen instead of matte anyways, I never liked that plate, and I didn’t pay enough for that computer when I bought it 3 weeks ago.’

 8.  Appreciate and celebrate your own accomplishments often, you earned them! By noticing your accomplishments, you will find you have more of them more often. 

Please try this! I would be so grateful if you could make it a goal for your new year. Gratitude has shaped and continues to shape my life in amazing ways, and I know that it can improve yours too. Pick 1 or 2 things that stand out to you, and try them on a consistent basis for 1 or more weeks. Notice any changes.