"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." -Thornton Wilder

With a new year upon us, and the hope for a better one than the last, intentionally practicing gratitude is an important part of our daily lives. 

Practicing gratitude is more than simply saying “thank you” (which is typically a simple exhibition of good manners), it’s a deeper acknowledgment of our blessings – big and small – and it can have wide-reaching benefits for overall health and happiness.

Experts at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, cite studies finding those who practice gratitude have:

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • Higher levels of positive emotions;
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness;
  • More generosity and compassion;
  • Fewer feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Are you ready to reap these rewards and more? 

Challenge: Express gratitude daily.

Ideas and Inspiration: 

  • Commit. Kick-off your month by sitting down and writing out 5-10 things you’re grateful for. At the end of your list, write “I have so much to be grateful for and this month I will recognize those things every day.” Hang your statement somewhere as a reminder.
  • Keep a journal. Writing down what you’re grateful for every day is a great way to make it a habit. No worries if you’re no poet or don’t feel like writing a page or a paragraph every day. Even just writing one word is powerful and puts your heart and head in a place of deeper gratitude. Consider involving your whole family by making it a dinner-time practice to go around the table and ask what everyone is thankful for each day. Then, your journal is not only a way to record your blessings, it’s also a beautiful reminder of your lives together and you can look back on your entries to remember all the good times.
  • Join our HMN Vision Board event. Put gratitude front and center by adding it to a vision board. Our CA, San Jose Community hosts their popular Creating Vision Boards event on Wednesday, January 27 at 1 p.m. PT/2 MT/3 CT/4 ET, and all are welcome to attend. Register via zoom here
  • Download the app. Seriously! There are apps to help, if that’s more your speed. Here’s just one of them, called Gratitude – https://gratefulness.me/ 
  • Listen to a podcast for inspiration. Try The Gratitude Podcast, The Science of Happiness Podcast, or The Gratitude Diaries
  • Feel it. Beyond just writing it down, feel the gratitude. Whatever you’ve chosen to be thankful for that day, think about it and let yourself be truly happy about it for a while. 
  • Share it. Vocalizing your gratitude to others not only increases the psychological and biological benefits for you, it also tends to have a domino effect – inspiring others to be more thankful, as well. Want to see it in action? Grab a tissue and prepare to smile while watching “The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude” from SoulPancake.

Want to know more about the science and practice of gratitude? Please see the resources recommended by the Greater Good Science Center: