Instead of beginning the new year with a list of resolutions, start by examining the good things that are already in your life by practicing gratitude.
Psychologists have defined gratitude as a positive emotional response to receiving a benefit from someone. In positive psychology, gratitude is the human way of acknowledging the good things in life. Thankfully, gratitude is something you can learn if it does not come innately.
There are benefits to practicing gratitude, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. Gratitude invites positive emotions that can have physical benefits, through the immune and/or endocrine systems. Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered, which can have protective benefits for the body—including decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel good.
There are a few great ways to get started today and practice gratitude in your own life:
- Write thank you notes
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Follow-up with family and friends
- Give back to your family, friends, and community
- Pay kindnesses forward
Tip adapted from Psychology Today21
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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