This 3-Minute Gratitude Exercise Could Help You Feel Happier (& Healthier)

We love efficiency, whether that’s makeup that doubles as skincare or a juicer that cuts our OJ-making time in half. So it’s no surprise we take the same approach to wellness and our mental health. The latest quick-and-easy self-care practice we’re loving? This 3-minute gratitude exercise.

Anyone with a passion for self-development knows that there are benefits to being thankful, and when we connected with Nazanin Mandi, an author, transformational life coach and founder of You.Bloome, she told us how taking three minutes of your day to be grateful can make you happier—and even live longer. Let’s get into the perks of gratitude and how to practice it, shall we?

Meet the Expert

Nazanin Mandi is an author, transformational life coach and founder of the wellness community You.Bloome.

50 Totally Free Ways to Practice Self-Care at Home

illustration of a woman writing in a journal
BRO Vector/getty images

Earlier this year, Mandi published The Art of Gratitude, a  journal to help guide your daily gratitude practice. “[The journal was] designed as a 3-minute practice to acknowledge a few things you are grateful for each day, big or small,” Mandi tells us. So whether you’re looking to manifest a new job, your dream partner, financial success or better health—it all starts with highlighting the good in our lives by taking a moment to pause and reflect on it.

“For me, I like to create a space that is dedicated to my gratitude ritual,” Mandi explains about her own daily practice. “I light a few candles, I have my lucky money tree, it’s peaceful. I put my hands on my heart and I say, ‘Thank you for what is, and what was.’” She adds that it can be a meditative process if you want it to be, and only takes a few minutes (perfect for how busy we all are).  Consider it the perfect activity to boost your mood all while your first pot of coffee is brewing. 

How Does the 3-Minute Gratitude Exercise Work?

  • Minute 1: Acknowledge your space and sit comfortably in an environment where you feel peace. Lighting, candles, imagery, nostalgic items and a journal are all helpful tools to create a meditative scene.
  • Minute 2: Now that you’re settled, take out your journal or favorite pen and paper to write a physical list of what you’re grateful for—it can be big or small. The goal is to envision three to five people, places or things that put your body and mind in a joyous state. It’s important to try and feel these emotions instead of just listing things off. 
  • Minute 3: While sitting in a state of gratitude, breathe deeply and slowly to marinate in these feelings and thoughts. It helps to close your eyes and rest your hands on your heart to help establish presence and tune into your body, but do whatever works for you to extend this period of bliss before opening your eyes and continuing on your day.

How Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Let’s be real: Very few things can take away the joy that our morning latte or a night-in with friends can bring. The secret to getting more of those good vibes throughout the day, Mandi tells us, is through conscious appreciation. She says,“Consistency for mental health is key. We live in an era where challenges are thrown at us all day. When our foundation is consistently nurtured with reminders, we are set up for success.” That’s where a morning and/or evening journaling practice comes in. 

As for the science behind gratitude, various studies have found strong correlations between gratitude and happiness. Harvard Health, for example, cites research done by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman. Seligman found that when study participants wrote and personally delivered letters of gratitude to people who hadn’t been properly thanked for their kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. Another study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than people who wouldn’t describe themselves as particularly grateful.  

Mandi concludes, “When you’re authentically grateful…you attract people, things, opportunities that are a match for you. It can take time, it doesn’t always happen overnight. When people don’t see it happening right away, it can feel like gratitude is not working. Trust me—gratitude is always working, and at the right time.”

The bottom line is this: Start a gratitude practice and stick with it. You won’t regret it.

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Freelance PureWow Editor