By Suzanne Boothby
Are you focusing on what you have or what you lack when it comes to your health goals? A simple practice of gratitude or acknowledging and appreciating what you already have can help you make greater strides toward more health and happiness.
When you are working to increase your health, it can be easy to notice what’s going wrong—when you miss a workout or eat a “forbidden food.” But too many negative thoughts can derail your progress. You don’t want to get stuck in a “why bother?” mentality.
Imagine waking up and feeling grateful for the bed you slept in, the possibilities of the day ahead and the juice you made the day before. It might sound silly, but research shows that people who practice gratitude and focus on what they have feel happier, have higher self-esteem, sleep better, are more likely to exercise and more.
Here are five ways to get started.
A gratitude practice does not have to be complicated. One of the easiest ways to start is by setting aside five minutes before you go to bed and think of three great moments from your day. It could be a meal you enjoyed, a compliment from a co-worker or a smile from a stranger.
Are you someone who needs a prompt? Use your phone to set a timer that goes off each day to remind you to take a moment for gratitude. It could be first thing in the morning or after dinner. The important part is to take the time to remember what happened that day (or the day before) and appreciate what you have.
Think of this journal as a tool to help you track the goodness in your life. You can start with a journal, notebook, a piece of paper or you can type it in your computer and keep a gratitude file. You can make a list of what you are grateful for or you can focus on one thing and write about that. Try it once a week or daily, and notice how you feel. Writing it down helps you to see the gifts in your life and the act of writing can be a stress-relieving bonus.
Not much of a writer? You can also track your gratitude on a calendar. Get a wall calendar for the year and use it to write three things you are grateful for each day—or however many items you can fit. At the end of the month, you can easily see all the great moments and look forward to the month ahead.
Sending a thank-you letter is not just for special occasions and birthdays. You can increase your gratitude by writing a letter each month to someone who truly made an impact on your life—whether it’s your spouse, a child or a friend. You can even write one to yourself!