Have you ever had one of those days where you find yourself critiquing everything in your life? From your job to your relationships to the rush hour traffic and the latest news announcements. Worst of all, perhaps you find that you're critiquing yourself—your body, your mind, and your feelings.
Living in a world consumed by technology, it is easy to fall into the media's marketing trap. You don't have enough. Your life doesn't compare. You should be smarter; you should make more money; you should look like this.
There are similar traps in health and fitness too. They keep us focused on what we don't have—the lack of muscles, the endurance we've yet to master, the weights we still can't lift—rather than our achievements and how far we've come. Moreover, they ensure we continue striving rather than living in a place of gratitude.
Without gratitude, we don't cultivate a healthy mindset or self-image. Moreover, we forget that the journey is just as important as the goal, and the moment we have right now (and who we are right now) is worth pausing, recognizing, and appreciating.
Gratitude is crucial for self-growth, but it also benefits our physical health. (Go figure!) People who practice gratitude have lower stress levels, sleep better, and make healthier diet choices. They also tend to exercise more and get sick less often.
Grateful people also have a glass-half-full outlook on life. They don't see their fitness and health journey as a negative, to-do list item; instead, they celebrate small victories and give themselves grace on the hard days.
Practicing gratitude can be challenging at first, especially if it is new for you. Gratitude journals are a great way to finish your day on a positive note. Instead of scrolling through social media and dwelling on what you've missed, spend your last few waking minutes scribbling positive notes about what you are thankful for.
Another tangible way to practice gratitude is to verbalize your thanks. We often assume people know what we are thinking. We spend many days hearing only what we can be doing better, leading us to more stress and discouragement.
When you are grateful for someone, tell them. Was the cashier at the store kind? Thank them. Did your boss make a fresh pot of coffee? Say, thank you. As humans, we need to know we are seen and appreciated. Spreading gratitude as often as we can will not only make others feel loved, but it will bring us joy too.
So even if it is a small step today—saying one genuine thank you out loud or scribbling a small note before bed—practice gratitude. We promise it will not only improve your physical health, but it will benefit your heart, mind, soul, as well as the world around you.