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Practicing Gratitude for Health and Happiness

Talk about a positive perk: By cultivating gratitude, you end up with more reasons to be grateful.

When you make an effort to see the good in life, it feels good. You'll likely notice that you are happier, more content, and less stressed. You'll also enjoy some nice health benefits. Some studies show that practicing gratitude may help:

• Lower blood pressure

• Boost immune response

• Lower the risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders

Four Ways To Grow in Gratitude

Feeling grateful may seem like it comes naturally to some people, but nurturing a habit of thankfulness is a conscious, daily choice. These practices help you keep gratitude at the center of your day.

1. Savor your everyday life. Slow down and enjoy those things that bring you comfort and joy—but are easy to take for granted—like a loved one's smile, a crisp, cold apple, a bright blue sky, or a warm cup of tea.

2. Write it down. What makes you smile? Note it in a daily gratitude journal. It can truly make a difference in where your focus lies. It's hard to get stuck in the negative when you are busy counting—and writing about—your blessings.

Studies show that people who use a gratitude journal are more optimistic and enjoy better overall health. They tend to be more alert, determined, enthusiastic, and energetic. They also:

• Cope better with stressful life events

• Bounce back from illness faster

• Exercise more

• Sleep longer and enjoy better sleep quality

Writing it down will help you focus on the positive. And any time you need a lift, you can turn back to your journal and read those memories and moments.

3. Say thanks. Write a letter and deliver it in person if you can. Let others know how much you appreciate them—their kindness, generosity, friendship, time, etc. You'll reap the benefits of a grateful deed and bring that person joy of their own.

4. Do for others. Reaching out and assisting those in need often reminds us of the good in the world. Even better, make volunteering a family affair—and teach your children the power of giving and gratitude.


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