In this busy world of ours, the mind is constantly pulled from thoughts to sensory data, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed, and at times quite anxious.

While most of us don’t have time to sit for 5 minutes and relax, it’s essential to our wellbeing that we do.

So if you’re busy like me, try to use the below exercise to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the madness of your day.

Mindful Appreciation

This exercise is something we like to call “mindful appreciation”. Similar to a gratitude practice, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go underappreciated. These things can be objects or people – it’s up to you.

Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.

The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life; the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought amidst our desire for bigger and better things.

You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Have you ever properly acknowledged how these things benefit your life and the lives of others?
  • Have you ever thought about what life might be like without these things?
  • Have you ever stopped to notice their finer, more intricate details?
  • Have you ever sat down and thought about the relationships between these things and how together they play an interconnected role in the functioning of the earth?

How does the science say about this practice?

We have all been told since childhood that it is important to be appreciative for what you have. While at the time it may have seemed like a cliche parental lecture, there is actually scientific proof that gratitude has numerous benefits on your daily life! Here is some of what recent research has found:

1. Reduction in physical symptoms

Numerous studies have reported a significant correlation between expressing appreciation and a reduction in physical ailments. In 2003, a study showed that participants who kept a gratitude journal experienced 16% fewer physical symptoms and 10% less pain than those that focused on burdens instead.

2. Increases life expectancy

Being grateful can actually add years onto your life! Showing gratitude and appreciation for what you have is directly related to having an optimistic outlook on life. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic showed that individuals classified as “optimists” had up to a 50% reduction in their risk of premature death!

3. Improves emotional and mental health

Many studies have shown the amazing effect that a grateful perspective has on emotional and mental well-being. In one such study, there was found to be a 30-35% decrease in severe depression when participants used a journal daily to express gratitude for the positive aspects of their lives.

4. Strengthens personal relationships

Research has shown a strong relationship being gratitude and stronger pro-social tendencies in both platonic and romantic relationships. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we come across as friendly, more attentive, and easier to engage with, which leads to an increase in positive social interactions.

5. Encourages self-esteem

Self-esteem plays an important role in our overall happiness, relationship quality, and satisfaction with life. Living with appreciation is shown to enhance our social dynamic, making it easier to engage with the world around us. When you focus on the positives, you will begin to see yourself as worthy of receiving all of the good the world has to offer.

In conclusion

It may seem small, but simply taking the time to notice 5 things you are appreciative of every day that you usually don’t notice does more than just enhance your outlook on life. From reducing negative emotions, to increasing social interactions, and experiencing better quality health, gratitude and thinking happy thoughts have been shown to be a key ingredient to finding happiness in all areas of your life.

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Check out Hack Spirit's eBook: The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in the Moment.

Key highlights:

  • Learn what 'mindfulness' really is and the scientific benefits to practicing it daily
  • Learn exercises to be mindful throughout the day (even at work)
  • Understand how to meditate daily to enhance peace and clarity of mind
  • Understand and implement the 7 key steps to practicing mindfulness

Check it out here.