What does it mean to be mindful about being thankful? To practice gratitude?
It may sound silly at first, but studies show that expressing gratitude is overwhelmingly beneficial for your health. Making the time each day to explicitly articulate your thanks has been proven to enhance your overall health and happiness. The most compelling evidence suggests that being grateful can encourage empathy and reduce aggression, improve mental and emotional wellbeing, and even boost your business- who would have thought!
After reading all of these articles and beginning to see gratitude as something to actually practice, I wanted to brainstorm some ways that I could integrate expressing gratitude into my daily routine. My search turned up a lot of information on gratitude journals and the power of writing as a means of expressing thanks. While these journals prove to be very effective for those who are keen on writing, I was looking for something a little more digital and a bit less time intensive. What I really wanted to find was an app comparable to what Headspace does for practicing mindfulness. Headspace makes mindfulness easy, accessible, and quick but is still incredibly effective in producing results.
Luckily I remembered a "happiness challenge" that I participated in last year, the #100happydays challenge. For every day that you participate in this challenge, you are supposed to post a picture of something that makes you happy. Whether it is a picture of your friends, family, pet, or an inspirational quote- the post represents something that brightens your day. Gratitude is essentially the same thing, right? You are grateful for whatever you post because it makes you happy; making the experience a gratitude practice in its own right. And since part of the challenge is to identify every post with a hashtag, it is really easy to stay on track and make sure that you participate every day!
This challenge seamlessly creates a daily practice of gratitude by leveraging some of our most used technology. Since posting to social media is already a daily ritual for so many people, it is the perfect first step to an introductory gratitude practice. And with Americans spending more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, your practice could inspire countless others online.
Try out this happiness challenge, gratitude journaling, or even develop your own approach that is more tailored to your style. Whatever you chose, watch how your overall disposition shifts. The evidence in support of adopting such a practice is certainly convincing!