Did you know? World Gratitude Day happens every year on September 21st. It was created to bring communities and the world together to be thankful, appreciative, and show kindness. This holiday began in 1965 in Hawaii because an international gathering decided it was important to have a day to formally appreciate our world.
Gratitude is all about being thankful for what’s around you, taking time to appreciate and show kindness for those people, places, and things that mean the most to you. Regularly practicing gratitude has many positive benefits, including reduced stress and risk of depression, improved relationships, better sleep, higher professional and academic performance, and much more. According to Psychology Today, practicing gratitude actually changes the structure of your brain. It causes the prefrontal cortex (the area of your brain involved in processing information, managing emotional responses, and making decisions) to be more sensitive to future experiences of gratitude, making it easier and nearly automatic to see the positives and happiness in situations.
So how do we celebrate the holiday?
- Write a gratitude journal - take 10-15 minutes to list out or write paragraphs about everything in your life that you’re grateful for. Get as simple as you’d like, such as having food to eat.
- Write thank you / appreciation notes to your loved ones - you don’t even have to give them to your loved ones, though I’m sure it would make their day if you did.
- Do a gratitude meditation - meditate from a place of thankfulness or follow along with a guided gratitude meditation online.
- Find gratitude in your challenges - this one can be difficult, but is so transformative. Think about current or recent struggles in your life. What can you learn from them? How did they make you grow and why are you thankful for that opportunity for transformation?
- Volunteer - World Gratitude Day is a great time to volunteer locally to help out your community! Helping others gives us peace and fulfillment, and it also shows us to not take the things we have for granted as much.
- Spend time in nature practicing mindfulness - perhaps walk along a local trail, go on a hike, walk by the water or along the beach, or even sit in a park. Take time to notice the beautiful parts of nature that you usually are too busy thinking or talking and you miss out on them.
World Gratitude Day is a great time to show your appreciation, but it doesn’t have to be limited just to this day. Gratitude can be practiced any and every day of the year to lead to a more peaceful and happy life.