The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when we typically think about all we have to be thankful for: family, friends, plenty, etc. But did you know that the simple act of frequently noting a few things we are grateful for can be a significant mood-booster? When we adopt gratitude as an everyday mindset, it has a big influence on how we think and feel.
Many studies have been done exploring the numerous health benefits of gratitude. A Google search on “gratitude” brings up many articles like How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain, 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude, 28 Benefits of Gratitude & Most Significant Research Findings, 31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide, Giving thanks can make you happier – Harvard Health, and How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
What is it about gratitude that is so beneficial? It seems to help us focus on the positive things in our lives and decreases our rumination on the negative. We also typically spend a lot of time and effort pursuing what we don’t have—and if we do get it, we don’t feel any happier after the novelty wears off. Gratitude, on the other hand, helps us to appreciate the people and things we already have.
How can we practice gratitude? There are workbooks, journals, and apps to help us, but the most basic method is to 1) briefly note something or someone we are thankful for and why. Be specific. Be thankful for small things. There’s no need to wait for something monumental. Then 2) note something you are looking forward to.
Gratitude has the most impact on us when it becomes a habit. It’s OK to start small with a consistent practice of gratitude. Once you get started, and continue, practicing gratitude, the law of compounding interest is on your side. Writing down positive events and acknowledging those who have helped us makes us better at recognizing the good in our lives. This helps us to feel grateful more often, and the benefits build.
Make this Thanksgiving the beginning of a week…month…year… a lifetime of gratitude!