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Incorporating Gratitude into Your Daily Life

By Mae Elizabeth

The information provided herein is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice or to replace professional medical care. You should always seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medication or dietary supplement, as well as when starting new exercise regimens. The opinions stated herein are those solely of the writer, who has been compensated by the up4® Probiotics Brand, and do not portray the opinions of the brand, i-Health, Inc., or DSM.

“Happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ― Frederick Koenig

Let’s talk about practicing gratitude. Maybe you’re familiar with it or maybe this is the first time you’ve really read about it. In a nutshell, practicing gratitude requires you to express deep appreciation and acknowledge the positive things around you. Although something you should still do, this is more than saying thank you to someone for doing something nice. This is taking a few moments each day to really recognize the great things—big or small—in your life. Studies have shown that people who consistently express gratitude are happier, less depressed, more optimistic, sleep better and have stronger relationships.

Intrigued? It gets even better because multiple scientific studies have proven these benefits. In 2017, the University of California, Berkeley completed a study with 300 people who were currently seeking mental health counseling for depression or anxiety. Group one wrote a letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks (but they didn’t have to send it), group two wrote emotionally about negative experiences, and group three did not do a writing activity. The group who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks after the exercise and even better results 12 weeks later than those who didn’t. What is even more fascinating is the fMRI scan conducted, which revealed that the gratitude letter group demonstrated greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex when experiencing gratitude than the other groups three months later! [1]

So, how can you practice gratitude? There are various avenues you can take that range from simple and short to creative and tangible. I’ve listed a few below:

  • Let’s start with the one we already know: write gratitude letters to specific people. Writing one a week can make a massive impact, and the choice is yours whether you send it or not.
  • Keep a gratitude journal that you write in every day. I always suggest at least three new things a day, but even one entry is better than nothing. These entries can be as simple as a bullet point list, or you can let the pen fly!
  • Create a gratitude jar. This one is great for kids since they can decorate the jar however they want, but I’m all for adults doing it, too! Each day, write down on slips of paper what you’re grateful for and watch the jar fill up. If you’re ever feeling down, you can take a few out and remind yourself of all the great things, people and experiences in your life.
  • Get a gratitude app. If pen and paper aren’t your thing, there are some great apps out there. Seriously, just type “gratitude” in the search bar of your app store and you’ll find plenty to choose from. A few features I like about using an app are the ability to add photos to my bullet lists, push notifications reminding me to put in an entry, and the ability to add a passcode to keep it personal.

Do you think you’ll add a gratitude practice to your life? If not, what’s stopping you? I truly believe (and science agrees) that it will only bring greatness to your life. Just as you support your wellness with good food, exercise and up4® Probiotics,* you also need to take care of your mind. Everything comes together to help support your overall wellness.