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"Thank you."

These words are so powerful. They can create a smile, turn around a bad day, and validate another person's contribution. But thankfulness doesn't just benefit the person being thanked, it benefits the one giving thanks as well - maybe even more so. 

According to recent research, the consistent practice of gratitude can bring huge benefits to your health and well-being. Some of the most prominently reported benefits of a consistent gratitude practice include:

More restful sleep: Spending just 15 minutes writing out what you're grateful for at the end of the day can result in increased feelings of calm at night, reduced feelings of stress, and lead to better, longer sleep, according to studies cited by contributors for both Forbes and Huffington Post. Multiple studies have shown correlations between consistent gratitude journaling before bed and improved sleep quality.

Looks like this pup has been doing some serious gratitude journaling.


Increased contentment:
Modern technology grants us unprecedented access to all the details of our friends' personal lives, thanks to 24/7 social media feeds. While this can sometimes be a fun way to stay connected to those we care about, it can unfortunately also foster unhealthy emotional habits like comparison and envy, both total joy-stealers. Comparison can lead to decreased satisfaction with one's own life and strained, distant friendships - but gratitude does just the opposite. By consistently meditating on what you're thankful for, you're far more likely to feel a renewed sense of contentment with your own life, and to appreciate others' good fortune and success genuinely.

Improved physical health: Harvard's health newsletter recently reported about a study done on three groups of people with different sets of journaling instructions: one set was told to keep gratitude journals, one to journal about things that bothered them, and one to just journal about events that affected them (positive or negative). Not surprisingly, those who journaled about things they were grateful for reported higher levels of happiness and well-being. But, somewhat unexpectedly, they also reported better health than both control groups, as measured through quantitative criteria like frequency of doctor's visits and physical exercise. 


Increased productivity: While some may be under the impression that keeping a gratitude journal is only for those with lots of free time and no high demands on them professionally, research has shown that just the opposite is true. Hubspot blog contributor Scott Tousley shared in a post on gratitude and productivity that studies from Yale, Stanford, Harvard, UC-Berkely and Columbia all correlate gratitude journaling with lowered stress, heightened alertness, and, consequently, measurably higher levels of productivity in peoples' personal and professional lives. He calls gratitude journaling the "most underrated tool for increasing productivity." If you've been in a slump lately, counting your blessings might be just the boost you need to get back in high gear.

So, are you wondering how to get started with your own gratitude journal? The great thing about this habit is that you can create an experience that's totally customized to your preferences and lifestyle. It can be as simple as picking up a spiral bound notebook from Target or even downloading a free app on your smartphone to help you track entries. Gratitude and Gratitude365 both look like great options for you techies.

If you love stationery, spend some time browsing journals (we recommend The Flourish Market or Raven and Lilly for beautiful, artisan-made options that give back) and treat yourself to one that reflects your personality. There is no right or wrong way to do it; the point is to find what works for you and make a consistent habit of noticing and consciously giving thanks for the beautiful things in your life.

Are you planning to try gratitude journaling? Do you already practice this art of giving thanks? We'd love to hear your thoughts and tips!