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Gratitude has long been listed as one of the great virtues. But do you have it? Perhaps more importantly, do you practice it?

Here are 3ways that “Thank You” can improve your life:

1. Being thankful improves your health

Mental health professionals found that gratitude improves health and reduces stress. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons found that “feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.”

Grateful people tend to be more optimistic and maintain higher numbers of blood cells which boosts the immune system.

2. Gratitude helps you feel more satisfied with what you have

Look at the world around you . . . do you notice what you don’t have or what you do have? If you make an effort be be grateful, you’ll start noticing the good things in your life more often. This can change your perspective in a very positive way. Everyone has good and bad in their lives, but sometimes people see only bad because that is all they focus on.

Taking time to see the good in your life helps you to feel more satisfied with what you have. There are many people who have challenges with health, family, finances, and more who remain happy. How? They take time to recognize what they do have and find joy in those things. Someone may have a health challenge but have great people in their lives to support them. Someone else may have financial trouble but have the ability to have fun with simple things and make due with limited funds. Yet another may find that their family relationships are not as strong as they wish they were, yet they are in good health.

If you look close, you can almost always find things to be grateful for. Those things can help raise you above the turmoil in other parts of your life and help you be more satisfied with what you have.

“Gratitude is not about ‘looking at the bright side’ or denying the realities of life. Gratitude goes much deeper than that. It’s about learning from a situation, taking the good to help deal with other challenges in the future.”

– Joan Buchman, The Healing Power of Gratitude

3. Saying “Thank You” can strengthen others and build relationships

Think back on the last time you received a thank you note or the last time someone told you “thank you!” for something you had done. How did that make you feel? If you are like me, you felt appreciated, happy, and uplifted. I wanted to do the same thing again. I felt good knowing I had helped someone.

Gratitude can help bring out the best in others. By building people around you and people in the world, you help improve your personal environment and also help make the world a better place.

*So how can you be more grateful?*

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Set aside time to write down several things you are grateful for. A good place to start is to list three to five per day. This daily practice of looking for positive events and writing them down can help you develop more gratitude.
  • Write thank you notes. A handwritten note can go a long way. Texts are good, emails are nice, but there is something about receiving a handwritten thank you card that shows a little extra thought and care.
  • Use visual reminders. By placing notes or pictures in your car or around your home of things you are grateful for, you can help you remain mindful of the good in your life.
  • Make a list. If you aren’t able to keep a gratitude journal, a one-time list of things you are grateful for can be a great jumpstart. Take some time early in the morning and write down the things you are grateful for. This can open up your mind to thoughts of gratitude that you may not have otherwise had.
  • Change your self-talk. We all use an inner dialogue that is known as “self-talk.” When our self-talk is generally negative, our mood is also negative. We can improve our mood by changing the tone of our self-talk from negative to positive.