The benefits of practicing gratitude are innumerable. It helps release toxic emotions such as frustration, envy, regret and resentment while increasing sensitivity and empathy toward others. Being grateful also improves self-esteem and personal relationships by reducing social comparisons and supporting prosocial behavior.

While it’s common knowledge that cultivating gratitude is good for us, it’s not common practice for many of us. Here are five ways to change that.

  1. Give thanks immediately upon waking.
    Every morning before jumping out of bed into the new day, pause for a few moments and give thanks for the following: the opportunity to live and experience another new day; the people in your life whom you love and who love you; the good night’s rest you just had; the work you get to go to later; the clothes that keep you warm, and the commute money you have so you don’t have to walk to work.
  2. Give thanks before every meal.
    As you sit before your meal, make a quick mental note to feel thankful for the food that fuels your body and ultimately aids in the realization of your goals and dreams. Also give thanks to the meals for nourishing you and for giving you a breather to savor life in the midst of a crazy workday. If you happen to be with company, give thanks for the friendship, companionship and love you receive from the person you’re with.
  3. Give thanks when moving or exercising.
    We often take for granted our good health and the freedom that comes with it. Whenever you’re walking, running or exercising, take the occasion to give thanks for having the ability to move as you wish and to stay fit. Especially when you’re in the midst of a tough workout routine, repeat in your heart, “I’m so grateful for my hands, legs, beating heart and good health.” This mantra never fails to keep me going till the end of the session and I hope it’ll work for you too.
  4. Give thanks while showering or getting ready for bed.
    At the end of each day, wrap up the day by doing the following gratitude practice in your shower or when getting ready for bed: Give thanks for the day that has been completed. Focus on the parts of the day that went well. Next, give thanks for having a home to return to, a hot shower to keep you feeling fresh and clean, and a warm bed to sleep in later.
  5. Give thanks each time something wonderful happens or when a problem is solved.
    Whenever something good happens or when you overcome a challenge or avert a crisis, take a moment to express your appreciation to the universe. It’s important to acknowledge the victory and the hard work that went into it and to soak in the relief before getting back into the humdrum of our daily lives. More often than not, it isn’t that good things don’t happen to us, it’s just that we don’t pay enough attention to them.

Thank you in the sand photo available from Shutterstock