Halloween is over, and you walk into your local Target. What do you see there… CHRISTMAS! It’s already here, it’s already upon us. But what about Thanksgiving? What about the Macy’s Day parade, what about the turkey?
Thanksgiving easily becomes the most missed Holiday of the year, being overshadowed by costumes and Christmas Trees. However, there is SO MUCH power behind the season of Thanksgiving. There is so much fruit behind giving THANKS.
Gratitude Cultivates a Good Attitude.
Why? Why is gratitude so good for us? We’ve heard therapist after therapist tell their clients to start a gratitude journal, but why? First we have to answer the question, what is gratitude really? Gratitude as defined by Webster is: the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Gratitude is more than just a few thank yous. Gratitude and thankfulness is a willingness to show appreciation for something. When I hear that, to me it speaks a desire to acknowledge. A willingness of heart to return kindness by expressing that gratitude towards someone or something. Gratitude is a virtue held in high esteem by many organizations, religious groups, and tribes of people around the world.
No wonder it is something amazing to be studied using science. Many scientists have actually nailed down gratitude into two constituent parts: 1) acknowledgement of a positive outcome, and 2) acknowledging there is an external source for this outcome. Other scientists believe gratitude is a pure emotion. They even link some cultural, social, or genetic factors to what may make someone more grateful than the next person.
And, did you know, that neurons that wire together, fire together? That’s right, when we engage in expressions of gratitude we are consciously choosing a healthier path. When we choose this healthier path, we are engaging our brains in neuroplasticity. Our mindset is starting to become more positively shifted to enhance wellbeing. Neuroplasticity states that our brains/minds CAN change, we just have to engage them in conscious processes to do so.
Benefits of Gratitude:
- Grateful people tend to be healthier people. It creates healthy perspective on life, and our beliefs shift our biology.
- Gratitude enhances happiness, enhances overall satisfaction with life, and often helps individuals be less materialistic.
- There have been studies to show gratitude produces less fatigue, lower levels of cellular inflammation, and reduced episodes of heart failure.
- Individuals practicing gratitude often also begin adopting other healthy virtues such as patience and wisdom.
- Cultivating gratitude also helps boost positive social interactions, creating warmer workplaces, and more motivated children.
Having an attitude of gratitude begins to shift our interactions with the world around us, and helps us to cultivate a deeper sense of purpose and search for deeper meaning.
So how do we do it?
Gratitude sometimes feels like this ethereal thing that is hard to come by, or because it’s not “our natural way of thinking” we feel like we can’t do it. BUT there are some very simple, and practical ways to begin cultivating a deeper sense of gratitude. For instance:
- Start small – keep a journal routinely in the morning or at night, and write down just 3 things from that day or morning so far that you are grateful for.
- Write a few thank you letters! No one has ever been upset when they get a thank you letter. This will help you shift your perspective, and brighten someone else’s day.
- Just receive the compliment, with a thank you. No need to retort, just take it, and say thanks.
- Practice saying thank you for things your partner does, even when you feel like “they should just do this anyways.”
- Use your breath. Inhale gratitude, exhale anything that creates negative perspective. Repeat at least 5 times.
- Repeat this mantra to yourself, whenever you feel your perspective is in a negative place: Today I am grateful for my breath, today I am grateful for new beginnings and opportunities, and today I will choose to live in that space.
Gratitude does not have to stay in the ethereal clouds. Gratitude is a simple action, that when done repeatedly, yields positive fruits ten-fold.
Make the choice today to choose gratitude, even when it feels like everything is falling apart. Your brain, and your body will thank you.