Research shows that expressing thanks for simply getting through the day can bolster our well-being
Giving thanks might be the tradition during the holidays. But making gratitude part of daily life could improve health and well-being.
Michelle Maros, co-founder of Boca Raton-based Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life, says cultivating a daily sense of gratitude can be simple. The hard part is making the commitment to see the good despite life’s challenges.
“I think that for a lot of us or most of us, automatically our minds go to thinking about what we don’t have or what we wish we had or things that are going wrong,” Maros says.
The idea is to build a gratitude practice centered on remembering things that are going right and the things that people do have that help them feel more at ease, less stressed and OK with where they are in life at the moment.
What does that look like?
Maros says it’s important that people make gratitude practice their own by incorporating gratitude in a way that fits into their lives.
But the 33-year-old says the way she likes to practice gratitude starts each morning. “When you wake up, you’re given a brand new opportunity and a new day,” she says. “As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. When we go to sleep at night—not to sound morbid—we don’t know if we’re going to be presented with a new day. So, in the morning, it’s just having a grateful thought of thank you for this new day. I really like to start my day in that way.”
Another gratitude practice Maros teaches is to write a gratitude list at the end of the day. “It’s kind of like bookending your day: Starting it being grateful and ending it being grateful,” she says.
One might fill the list with things he or she is grateful for or positive things that happened that day. “People say, what if nothing good happened, or what if I can’t think of anything?” Maros says. The truth of the matter is that gratitude doesn’t have to be about the big, important things in life; rather, it’s the small, mundane things that happen moment to moment—the air one breathes, a morning cup of coffee, a few minutes of solitude, time spent playing with a pet or talking with a friend and much, much more.
It makes sense that having a gratitude practice could strengthen mental and physical health. Maros explains that research shows mental and physical illness is linked to stress. If stress feeds into illness, and teaching gratitude practices leads people to focus on what’s good and being in the moment, it can improve life and health, she says.
“Not worrying about the past or being anxious about the future can really help to reduce stress. So, incorporating practices like gratitude or being more mindful can certainly help to relieve the stress and can reduce illness and disease. It might be a small factor, but we believe it goes into leading a healthier life,” she says.
Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life is a nonprofit organization which, among other things, created a series for Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute for helping people in the community to enhance inner peace, happiness and well-being.
A Boca Raton resident, Maros is a certified yoga teacher and certified holistic health coach.