by Katie F., NAMI Mercer Fall 2022 Intern
About five years ago, my dad encouraged my family to watch a “lifechanging” TED Talk all about gratefulness. At the time, I was skeptical. I knew gratitude was important, but how could it be life-changing? Much to my surprise, my doubts quickly disappeared as I watched video.
The speaker in this TED Talk made countless insightful remarks but I’’ll stick to his main point: Gratefulness leads to happiness. There are so many people who have everything they could possibly need yet they yearn for more; they are unhappy. Conversely, there are people who have much less but are still content. How is this possible? The answer is gratefulness.
Gratefulness can improve both physical and mental health. In terms of physical health, practicing gratitude reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure. Grateful people also tend to have healthier eating and exercising habits, which further improves their physical well-being. In addition, practicing gratitude is associated with decreased stress, anxiety, and depression.
So, how can we practice gratitude? There are countless ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine, but here are some great options to get you started:
- Let someone know you appreciate them. Expressing your gratitude towards friends and family is a sure-fire way to bring more happiness into your life. It can be as simple as saying “thank you for always being there for me” or “I really appreciate our friendship.”
- Give yourself a compliment (or a few!). Make a list of five positive qualities you possess. For me, this was very difficult at first. However, it has become much easier to identify these qualities now that I’ve practiced it for a while.
- Put down the phone and pick up some paper. Make a list of everything you’re grateful for! It may seem silly, but it will make you more mindful of what you have, which will boost your gratitude (and happiness, too).
Gratitude can be practiced virtually anywhere, and at any time. Consider giving it a try for a week or two and take note of how you feel afterwards. Gratitude practices may seem simple, but they are such powerful tools. What practice are you ready to add to your routine?
Interested in the TED Talk I mentioned? Here’s the link: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful?language=en&subtitle=en
Mains, Cheryl. “Practicing Gratitude.” Orthopaedic Nursing, vol. 39, no. 6, 2020, pp. 364–365., https://doi.org/10.1097/nor.0000000000000716.