Thrive tip: Well-Being Through the Practice of Gratitude

Life moves at a fast past. Sometimes it can be hard to slow down and appreciate in that moment what’s going on in life around you. Research continues to show gratitude has multiple well-being benefits, including improved physical and emotional well-being. By introducing a gratitude practice of your own, it’s possible to positively impact your well-being. Below are some of the benefits and how you can begin to recognize gratitude in your own routine.

Some positive effects of gratitude include:

  • Increased feelings of happiness while decreasing anxiety. When we express gratitude, you’re more likely to appreciate the moment rather than worry about what has or will happened.
  • Appreciation of what we have in the moment. Gratitude often keeps us thinking in the present, rather than the past. We can appreciate what we have is enough rather than thinking the grass may be greener elsewhere.
  • Improved patience. Studies show those who engage in a gratitude practice can demonstrate patience better than those who do not participate.
  • Increased positive emotions, such as happiness, and thus, greater satisfaction in your life. This can be important in your both your professional and personal relationships. If you’re grateful for someone and recognize it, these emotions could evolve into friendship or love, whether plutonic or romantic. The same principle fosters a better sense of community for those who embrace gratitude.
  • Higher work satisfaction. Simple recognition can go a long way. One study found that managers who said thank you to their employees each week have more motivated and engaged employees.

So, how can you practice gratitude in your own life? It’s easier than you might think and can be done as often as you’d like. Remember, gratitude is about being present in that moment and reflecting upon what you’re thankful for.

  • Write it down. Journal what you’re grateful for each morning and before you go to bed.
  • Share with others. Tell your family and friends moments you’re grateful for them or how they’ve impacted your day. Explain why you’re thankful when it’s most meaningful. You could even consider writing a thank you note, or mentally thanking someone.
  • Observe your environment. Look for opportunities to express gratitude throughout the day. For example, you’re able to squeeze in a walk over lunch time or enjoy a quick coffee break, Journal those small moments if that’s useful for you to remember or appreciate at a future time.
  • Reflect on previous practices. If you’re having a bad day, take a look at some previous things you’ve been grateful for to re-energize you.
  • Just be in the moment for five or ten minutes. Think about all that you have that brings you peace or you have to be thankful for, and focus on those moments. Consider adopting a meditation routine if this practice is helpful for you.
  • Join a mindfulness class. WashU offers “Move into Mindfulness” virtual courses for employees. Learn more and register online.

Visit Washu’s employee well-being hub or contact the Mindfulness Team for more helpful tips.