“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” –Willie Nelson

Think of your optimal self, and how you feel when you’re at your best. Isn’t that the finest way to enter the audition room? Well, consistently auditioning with a first-rate state of mind can be a real challenge when life throws you for a loop a few times each day. Actors have long found routine activities like yoga, exercise, or meditation to be effective in mentally and physically preparing before auditions. But there’s another activity to add to your actor toolkit to help put you in an awesome, healthy, well-rested frame of mind–and it’s all centered on gratitude.

Research has shown that people who take the time to focus on what they are thankful for makes them a happier person overall. Dr. Robert Emmons is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and author of the book Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier; he has been studying the topic for over a decade. His studies found that individuals who consistently wrote about the people, places, and things for which they were thankful significantly increased their level of wellbeing. In fact, the practice actually lead to improvements in the participants’ exercise levels as well as the quality of their sleep.

Other ways to acknowledge and express gratitude include telling the person you’re thankful for that they are so appreciated whether it be through a thank-you note or telling them over a meal together–and then later reflecting on how you felt in letting them know. Some people memorize poems or prayers of gratitude to keep such thoughts fresh in their minds, or they place visual reminders in strategic places like quotes about gratitude on their screensaver; these practices serve as a reminder to not take things for granted throughout the day. Although the importance of being grateful is not a new idea, it’s helpful to mindfully take it up a notch here and there. See if you, like the study subjects, reap bountiful rewards!

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