Amid the day-to-day chaos of home, family and work, it’s easy to forget about gratitude, those elements of life, both big and small, that bring joy, safety and support.
Certainly, there are times when gratefulness is the last thing to cross the mind, but science is showing that people who take the time to practice gratitude are not just happier, but they’re healthier too.
Several studies have found grateful people are less stressed, get better sleep, have less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.
“Some people might not be grateful by nature,” Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist and author of “Winter Blues,” told Today, “but it’s a habit you can get accustomed to.”
A Gratitude List
To kick off a habit of being grateful, it’s important to know where and how to look at the world.
Heres a list of things to be grateful for:
1. Health is something we often take for granted, but physical wellbeing is key to a productive and happy life.
2. Friends add meaning to our lives and studies show lasting relationships also add longevity.
3. Having kids brings about levels of love and caring we didn’t know were possible.
4. Not having kids allows people a unique freedom to indulge impulsive travel or live happily without added responsibility.
5. Parents, with their knowledge and experience of life, are especially comforting the older we get.
6. The great outdoors with it’s rays of vitamin-D-providing sun and cool, soothing breezes.
7. Three-day weekends, whether that’s not working Friday into the weekend or getting precious extra sleep on a Monday.
8. Unexpected laughter that changes the whole course of the day and even provides a chuckle or two later on, when the moment is remembered.
9. Coordination, like, the ability to throw a ball or catch a set of keys tossed to you.
10. Any number of great, old movies that trap your attention the minute they show up on television.
11. Volunteering is just as rewarding for the person giving than the person receiving.
12. Random acts of kindness, like a stranger picking up something you dropped or a fellow driver waving you ahead.
13. Cat videos edited and scored by someone, somewhere on the internet that inexplicably lower our blood pressure and make us smile.
14. A new and exciting romantic relationship with all the possibilities of love.
15. An old, unsuccessful romantic relationship that, with hindsight, is better for not having lasted.
16. Songs that bring memories of good times front and center.
17. Literature, both fiction and nonfiction, that provides an interesting perspective or a desired escape.
18. Soft, clean sheets on the bed.
19. A pet that couldn’t be happier you’ve returned home after a day’s work.
20. The favorite shirt, either brand new or the one from eighth grade that still fits.
21. Travel with all it’s adventure, unfolding mystery and the memories it makes.
22. Free snacks at an event or in the break room at work.
23. A longtime spouse or partner that’s supported you in any number of ways over the years and knows you better than anyone else.
24. Quiet park benches for resting after a walk or for wiling moments away in the sunshine.
25. Hot showers that wash away the grime of a long day and soften tense muscles for greater relaxation.
26. Live music with a massive crowd of strangers and all the shared energy of a great concert.
27. Drinking in a sunset at the end of a long day reminds us that we made it through the day and can enjoy our accomplishments.
28. A good night’s sleep and the feeling of being rested.
29. Exercise that’s just the right amount of intensity, simultaneously wiping you out and energizing you.
30. Comfort food that you can’t eat all the time, but that is so delicious on a cheat day.
31. Life in general, your place in it and all the people you love and who love you too.
Practicing gratitude, as Dr. Christian Jarrett writes in NYMag, can actually cause a spiral, the idea that “The more Thankful we feel, the more likely we are to act pro-socially toward others, causing them to feel grateful and setting up a beautiful virtuous cascade.”