How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You a Better Dancer

Try writing down all the things you're grateful for—and realize there's even more than you thought! (Getty Images)

Gratitude practice is an exercise that's as straightforward and simple as it sounds—and it can have a major positive impact on your dancing. Here, we break down the basics, benefits, and best ways of practicing gratitude—just in time for Thanksgiving.


What Is It?

Gratitude practice means taking a few moments to pause and reflect on something or someone you're grateful for—like stopping to smell the roses over the course of your day, and really appreciating their scent. Sound almost too simple? The science behind practicing gratitude speaks for itself. Multiple studies highlight its positive effects on mental and physical health

How Can It Help My Dancing?

Regularly practicing gratitude is linked to greater levels of enthusiasm and joy, better sleeping patterns, and even stronger immune systems—all crucial to help you through the long Nutcracker season. It's also been shown to help stave off feelings of bitterness and jealousy, which, let's be honest, many dancers experience on the reg.

But beyond that, actively attuning your mind to gratitude often leads to an entire shift in perspective—especially if you're battling an injury. Gratitude practice can help you focus on the positives of healing and rebuilding your strength, rather than feeling down throughout your recovery.

Where Do I Start?

There are tons of ways to implement gratitude practice, but it all starts with focusing your attention on the things you might take for granted. Each morning, spend a few minutes jotting down a list of things you're looking forward to that day: taking class from a teacher you admire, your first rehearsal for a big role, hanging out with your dance friends at the studio, or climbing into bed with Netflix and a face mask once it's all over. When you get home, do the same thing, this time reflecting on the things that happened during the day.

Practicing "exterior gratitude" (expressing your gratitude to others) is another great option—and it's in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season. Write your teacher a note to thank them for all that they do for your dance career, or post an Instagram captioned with your favorite things about your studio friends. Not only will it motivate them to make it through that final stretch of the season, but it might also inspire them to pay it forward, too.

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